Friday, October 20, 2017

Franklin Candidate for School Committee - Alexandra Porter-Marques

Alexandra Porter-Marques (AP-M) and I (FM) exchanged emails to get the questions answered to share here. We did meet in person at the Candidates Night Tuesday, Oct 17. Alexandra is a candidate for Franklin (MA) School Committee in the election scheduled for November 7, 2017.

FM - Tell us a bit about yourself, your family, and your life here in Franklin? What is your Franklin story?

AP-M My husband and I moved to Franklin in 2003. We were looking for an affordable safe town with a strong school system that was commutable. At the time, I was working in Newton at a program supporting the mental health needs of young parents and their children and was committed to my work. My husband worked at a mental health agency serving families in Whitinsville. Franklin was equidistant. I had no roots to Franklin. Over time, I’ve grown attached to this community primarily through the school system which has educated my children and fostered relationships that root us here. 

My son was five when we moved to Franklin. He was born eleven weeks early. He utilized the special education system through most of his educational career in Franklin. I learned so much about individualized learning and the value of strong connections with teachers through parenting him through the school system. I learned about resources that existed within the system, their limitations, and resources I needed to seek outside the system. I saw firsthand the strength of teachers who went above and beyond to learn about his strengths and his needs and I learned about the importance of inclusivity and the value of community. He is now in the Honors Program at Westfield State University. Part of my desire to run for School Committee stems from my passion to give back to the system that gave so much to him. 

My daughter is in the seventh grade at The Horace Mann Middle School. She’s a typically developing kid with her own strengths and weaknesses. I’ve witnessed what ignites her passion for learning and what stultifies it. It has been interesting to compare the special education system with regular education. There are some core aspects of special education that make sense for all. I’m eager to explore some of these ideas as we think together about addressing personalized learning that honors individual learning styles and social emotional health as a School Committee.

I understand firsthand the enormous challenge of raising strong healthy kids when both parents are working full-time. It is impossible to meet all our needs as parents, children, and families. We, as parents are constantly making compromises and sacrifices, doubting our parenting, worrying about our kids, and often silently struggling ourselves. Community connection is vital and yet we have so little time. Part of what I hope to do on the School Community is provide some necessary outreach, support, education, and opportunities for connection.

I’m also interested in the idea of intergenerational programming. Connecting Seniors with students and families. Storytelling is a powerful tool for learning. What better way to make history come alive than to hear it from the voices of the Seniors in the community. Fostering these connections would be a gift to our children.

FM - What experience or background will help you to serve in this role? What do you bring to the table that helps to set you apart from the others?

AP-MOver the next two years, under the direction of Dr. Ahern, The School Committee will be creating a strategic plan to guide programming and policies. One of the main objectives is to enhance programs and practices that build social and emotional competencies. Children whose social and emotional needs are met are naturally higher achieving academically. I believe I have the unique training and perspective necessary to inform this process.

I have worked in community mental health for the past seventeen years. Seven years ago, I opened my private practice in Medway. About 1/3 of my caseload is from Franklin. Most of the children and adolescents I’ve seen struggle with anxiety and depression. All of them struggle to make it through the school day. In addition to individual treatment and parenting support, I’ve worked with teachers, school guidance counselors, and administrators to make small adjustments that make a significant difference. I would like to use my education and experience to better inform policies/procedures.

I graduated from Boston College Summa Cum Laude in 1996. I received my MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Lesley University in 2002. I have four years post graduate training in Adult Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy from The Boston Psychoanalytic Society & Institute. I’m currently enrolled in a Fellowship in Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy at The Boston Psychoanalytic Society & Institute. Psychoanalytic theory is the theory of how the mind develops. 

In practice, contemporary psychoanalytic psychotherapy is a deeply humane approach that stems from an in depth understanding of personality. My training would be an invaluable asset as we work to ensure that learning is developmentally appropriate at all levels. Additionally, I’m a highly trained active listener and an integrative and innovative thinker. I’m excited to see what kinds of creative strategies we can come up with to better meet our children’s social and emotional needs.

FM - What do you see as your role's biggest challenge and do you have any suggestions on how we can resolve it?

AP-M -I’ve heard the concern that we need more resources. More counselors, which of course is a strain on budget. I don’t believe we necessarily need more resources, I’m trained to think systemically and I believe small shifts in mindset that are clinically informed can make a powerful difference for these kids. These kinds of shifts over time contribute to a shift in culture- one in which students feel better understood and empowered in their learning. 

I also believe community outreach that educates, supports, and empowers parent can improve the partnership between parents and teachers so that children feel better understood and are more accessible to learning and reaching their academic potential. We have a lot of strength here we can capitalize on with the right vision, a clear strategic plan, and the right leadership. I believe we have that in Dr. Ahern and I am excited to be a part of a multi-disciplinary team of educators and administrators that addresses education from a variety of perspectives.

If you’d like to reach out to me directly, I would be happy to listen to your experience and concerns and answers any questions you may have.

It would be a true privilege to serve this community. Please consider voting for me on November 7. Thank you.

Alexandra's email is

Noteworthy: This information is intended to help the Franklin voters when we all head to the ballot box on November 7. The interview candidates have had an opportunity to review the text before publishing to ensure the accuracy of our discussion. 

Offer to Candidates 2017

Election Collection - 2017

Election Collection - 2017

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