The Belmont and had a tough choice during a joint meeting on Monday, Oct. 3 in Town Hall to select the person who will fill the empty seat on the School Committee after interviewing four candidates the officials said were all excellent.
Ultimately – after approximately an hour for the interview process that included statements as well as questions and answers – Anne Lougee, an active member in PTOs at all school levels in the district with a financial background, was selected to serve on the Committee until her term expires in April.
Lougee received all four of the votes cast by the school committee members who voted.
The Warwick Road resident has indicated that she will run for a full three-year term on the committee in April's Town Elections.
"I was actually surprised (being selected)," said Lougee, who has lived in Belmont for the past 22 years, of her selection in part due to the number of strong candidates.
“I’ve been very interested in the position on the School Committee from afar for a while,” said Lougee in her opening statement, explaining that she has been attending the committee meetings for the past three years in her role as president of the Belmont High School PTO.
“I bring to this 25 years of non-profit business experience,” she said, pointing out that for four years she served as a consultant for the after-care program at the Wellington Elementary School.
"They had a lot of challenges that I helped them through,” Lougee said.
Moreover, she said going to the public meetings as well as day-long budget forums the committee has held with the School Leadership Council for the past two years allowed her a way to learn that she enjoys.
“It’s important to have a full understanding of the district as a whole,” Lougee said. “We grow through it with our children and (with daughter now beginning her freshman year in college) I now see more clearly the impact and tradeoff in the budget decisions and I’d like to broaden the definition of what a successful graduate (from the Belmont school system) means.”
Lougee appeared at the interview with candidates Diane Palmer, Marilyn Horan and Pascha Griffiths.
Griffiths, who is pursuing a doctoral program in education at Harvard University and has lived in the town for a few years, said she is strongly following a career in educational leadership and being on the School Committee would allow her a chance to learn more.
“As a parent, I appreciate all the work the School Committee has done to find a new superintendent who is doing an excellent job,” she said. “I’m a relative newcomer to Belmont but was drawn here because of its excellent educational reputation.”
Hornan, who has lived in Belmont for almost 50 years, said this is the first foray she’s ever made into town politics but with a background in teaching for 42 years and coming from a family of educators, she would love to serve on the School committee.
“I always appreciated the safe and stable environment my sons had and want to see that for all children in Belmont,” she said of the school district.
Palmer, who moved to Belmont 13 years ago, has devoted her entire career to education, first as an English or Social Studies teacher and then as an administrator and in the State Department of Education in Maryland working on standards and curriculum.
“When I moved back to Massachusetts, I became a substitute teacher in Belmont,” she said. “I lived in Latin America and several places in this country so I come with a perspective of different cultures working together.”
The four candidates all said they believe the School Committee is currently doing an excellent job and they would spend a lot of their time, if appointed, listening and learning. All said they would consider running for a permanent seat on the committee in April.
When asked what the School Committee might do to improve, Lougee said she might expand the group by two or three members.
“There’s a lot of committee work and differing points of view are necessary,’ she said.