|North Adams Officials Elect New School Committee Member
|By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff
03:02PM / Wednesday, March 01, 2023
|Tomkowicz being sworn in.
Cody Chamberlain has taught and tutored in Boston area schools and he saw the School Committee as way to get involved in his new community. He said he planned to run for the committee in the next election.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — City and school officials elected a college admissions counselor to fill an empty seat on the School Committee.
Alyssa Tomkowicz, who grew up in Williamstown and graduated from Williams College, is a senior admissions counselor for systems and outreach at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.
She was one of two candidates to fill the seat left vacant by the resignation of Joshua Vallieres in December
. The other candidate, Cody Chamberlain, studied education and economic development at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He moved to North Adams in 2021.
Both candidates addressed the joint meeting of the School Committee and City Council on why they were interested in serving. They answered a broad range of questions on their interests in educational levels; the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion; pathways to success; public education; balancing student needs and budgetary limits; and their interest in running for office in the future.
"We have two impressive candidates tonight and I don't think this is going to be an easy decision," said Councilor Keith Bona, later joking, "it's a great time for any School Committee member to resign right now, we can make our job a lot easier."
Daunis encouraged whoever wasn't selected to run for office.
"It's a great process to go through and you know, I myself wasn't elected the first time and I really encourage everyone to try, try again," she said.
Tomkowicz said she had "a really strong love for public education" and, as an admissions counselor, a good handle on the career pathways for students that may not be four-year colleges.
Students should always be the "true north" of the School Committee but it should also be on the side of its staff and administration, she said.
She said DEI education at appropriate levels was important for children "to fully understand what it means to be a citizen in the world."
"I think that the students who come [to college] with that more DEI education that they've already had, often have an easier time for sort of acclimating to the world after high school," she said.
Tomkowicz also said she would like to see the public school system use resources like the region's colleges and museums.
"We live in such a rich and vibrant place with a lot of cultural opportunities and educational opportunities and our students can and should be able to take advantage of that," said Tomkowicz. "Additionally, technology is ever evolving, and I would love to see how we can incorporate new and emerging technologies into our classrooms."
Council President Lisa Blackmer nominated Tomkowicz, who was elected on an 11-3 vote, with School Committee members Richard Alcombright and David Sookey and Councilor Jennifer Barbeau voting against.
Alcombright then called for a vote of confidence for Tomkowicz, which was unanimous.
"Although I was disappointed that we didn't have a larger number of candidates, I'm very happy with the quality of both of you," Blackmer said. "You brought a couple different tweaks in interest but you both care about our students and the education, and I find that it's really important, obviously."