As part of GOOD Morning Wilton‘s coverage of the elections for the 2019 municipal elections, we have set out guidelines inviting each candidate to submit one 800-word op-ed piece before Election Day. Jennifer Lalor is a Republican candidate for the Board of Education.

I am happy to have this opportunity to tell Wilton voters a little about myself and why I am running for the Wilton Board of Education.

I decided to run for the Wilton Board of Education for three main reasons.

First, I have been involved in education and special education for the last 20 years as a Speech-Language Pathologist. Currently, I run a private practice based in Wilton, and I am the clinical speech supervisor for Southern Connecticut for a company called TheraCare. Before TheraCare, I was a clinical supervisor for undergraduate students in the Speech and Hearing Clinic at Iona College. I work with children in the “birth to three” population, preschool through high school and beyond. In that context, I work and collaborate daily with families, therapists of all disciplines, and educators in both the public and private sectors.

As a professional, developing and implementing strategies to make each of “my” children successful, whether in the IEP context or otherwise, is my number one goal and priority. I believe this has direct relevance to the Wilton BOE’s role. Focusing on every child, no matter his or her strengths, challenges, or goals, is of primary importance.  We need to challenge and find ways for all of our students to not only be successful but to strive for excellence. We need to maintain supports for those who need this while finding enrichment opportunities and furthering our STEM programs.

Second, like many of you, my family moved here for Wilton’s schools. My husband and I are invested in our schools not only as taxpayers and homeowners, but as parents, as we have a fifth grader at Cider Mill and a seventh grader at Middlebrook.

Keeping Wilton schools ranked highly and addressing taxpayers’ important concerns will be a constant challenge. As a supervisor, I work frequently with the clinical staff and management team to ensure effective support for our organization’s mission. This too has great relevance to the BOE, which must work cohesively with the Board of Finance and others including the Board of Selectmen. There are serious issues that will require a lot of work and due diligence on the BOE’s part. We will all need to roll up our sleeves and do the work necessary to understand complex issues. For example, contending with the loss of state funding and other budget pressures means the BOE and the BOF must work closely together and come up with creative solutions.

Third, I highly value community and civic volunteerism, which was something instilled in me when I was a student. Since moving to Wilton, I have enjoyed volunteering to help or to chair PTA programs and recently to help lead my daughter’s Girl Scout troop. Now that our children are older, I am eager to take on a larger role, and I am committed to working hard on the BOE.

My goals as a BOE member start with creating new and enhanced opportunities for everyone in Wilton to take part in BOE decision-making. Effective advocacy starts with hearing from the individuals in the community and learning from them. It is always great to interact with people in our town who care about our schools and who can offer valuable perspectives, both personal and professional.  The BOE’s actions should reflect all these voices, and I believe there are simple, cost-effective ways to make this happen. The BOE could, for example, more actively partner with the PTAs at all four Wilton schools by contributing to their newsletter; send out a postcard (similar to the one parents received at the beginning of this school year) letting the community know about specific matters (before things happen, so everyone can weigh in and have a voice); and periodically hold public community forums at different hours so individuals from the community have the opportunity to share concerns, ask questions, etc.

Overall, I’d like to find new ways to ensure people are not finding out about important BOE decisions after they happen.

So – why Jennifer Lalor? I believe I will bring a unique perspective to the Board given my background in education and special education. I love what I do and strive every day to find creative ways to help each and every one of my students. I value hard work, and I enjoy working collaboratively on a team. I might not always have immediate answers, but I will always listen and work hard to thoroughly understand the issues or situations in the course of making decisions.

I appreciate this opportunity to tell you more about myself in GOOD Morning Wilton and look forward to seeing you at the polls on Nov. 5!