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  • catherinebrunell

Belonging Matters

Updated: Feb 19

Belonging is...

an absolute catalyst for learning. 

a by-product of trust between caregivers, administration and teachers 

the pride felt by a community when we think about our schools. 

We have federal and state laws that mandate inclusion, Department of Education guidelines that shape its practices, and School Committee policies that direct it in particular settings. But more powerful than any of these, are real people who care about one another. We cannot lose sight that schools are about people - and most of those people are children who need to know that we care about them because they matter to us.  

When we get this right, we are building a sense of BELONGING within our schools.

So how do I promote BELONGING in our schools as a School Committee Member?

I listen to everyone. I listen to our students and families with marginalized identities, to our experts, and to people with whom I disagree, even about fundamental issues. 

I rely on data. I look for trends over years and what or who is missing in any of the reports that we receive because numbers tell one part of our Natick story.  

After I listen, look at data, I respond in concrete ways. For example, over the last years: 

  • I worked on the Superintendent Screening Committee where I sought a diversity of perspectives on the committee and made sure we used input from the staff and community in our decision making. 

  • I have consistently advocated that Natick’s literacy programs reflect the most current data on how ALL students learn to read and what we need to do as a district to improve our support to both teachers and ALL learners.

  • I voted to change our homework and religious holiday policies so that a more inclusive list of the religions and traditions of our students and staff are reflected in our planning and school calendars and I also supported continuing the study of the impact of those policies on all aspects of our district. It’s not enough to make changes, we also have to evaluate the impact of those changes. 

  • I voted to expand METCO in the 2025-2026 school year - a racial integration program that creates the opportunity for students from Boston and students from suburban districts to go to school together in the suburban district -  in a timeline that I believed would allow us to sustainably support every student.  

  • I voted to fly the Progress flag in front of our schools in support of our LGBTQ+ students and families.

  • I worked with the Parents Coordinating Council for over a year to incorporate their critical volunteer work within our schools into equitable practices that our administration sought.  

  • I voted to increase communication between parents and teachers with the middle school and high school conferences in our recent Teachers’ Union contract.

  • I organized School Committee Coffee hours to increase our committee’s communication with our community.  

I am proud of the work I’ve done and the progress our district has made over the last three years, but there is so much more to do.  As we transition to a new administration and face an uncertain budgetary future, it is critical that we have proven leaders on the school committee who will make sure ALL students feel included. If I’m re-elected, I will continue to prioritize Belonging in every decision I make.

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