FRAMINGHAM – On Wednesday evening, the Framingham school committee elected Priscila Sousa as its next president.
The vote was historic as Sousa is the first woman of color to hold this title.
It’s also historic because Sousa, like many students in the public school district, started out in a Portuguese-speaking classroom and had to learn English.
Sousa, first elected in November 2019, served as clerk of the 9-member school committee during her first term, and now in her second term, she will serve as chair.
Sousa, who was chair of the race, equity and inclusion subcommittee last term, is now likely the youngest school committee chair in the community’s history for 322 years.
Mayor Charlie Sisitsky swore in Sousa, who was elected president in an 8-0-1 vote.
Sousa, who represents the residents of District 5, spoke after the vote.
SOURCE has requested a copy of his statement. It is posted below
When I first ran for the Framingham School Committee, I did so for several reasons.
One reason was the wonderful upbringing I received as a young Brazilian coming to Framingham decades ago, not speaking a word of English. This Brazilian girl, now a proud American citizen and member of this committee, owes so much success in my life to the wonderful education I received from the public schools in Framingham.
The second reason I ran was because I was my brother’s tutor for several years. During this time, I saw how difficult it was to navigate Framingham’s special education system. I’ve seen many improvements over the past few years, but we still have a lot of work to do to appropriately support all of our high-needs learners.
My last two years on this committee have allowed me to work with great leaders and great professionals. It also allowed me to spend a lot of time working in the trenches with families and students in my district and others who desperately needed help and advocacy during a pandemic. This ongoing pandemic has affected many of them very disproportionately.
Being trilingual has allowed me to help students and parents in our community navigate not only our schools, but other areas that impact our children’s ability to learn.
Currently, almost a third of our students are English Language Learners (ELL). In the majority of cases, their parents or guardians do not speak English.
As we all know, Framingham has enormous diversity. Our city is also politically, socio-economically, racially and ethnically diverse. This richness in a city our size is one of the things that makes our community so unique and special.
There’s only one place in Framingham where all of this diversity somehow connects. That place is our public schools.
Our education system faced many challenges before the pandemic, and now in the midst of our third COVID winter, the challenges continue and, in some cases, become even more difficult.
I believe that this committee, the administration, the teaching professionals and the staff are up to the challenge. Yes, we are all tired, but I believe people remain committed to serving our children at the highest possible level.
I also think it’s time to add additional metrics to measure our success at all levels. As a school committee, we have many milestones that we can count over the past few years.
• WE opened our first NEW school in nearly 48 years
• WE conducted equity and Title IX audits
• WE opted for distance learning
• WE put our children back in class
• WE have increased recess time for our students
• WE renamed a school with a name, chosen by our community, that we can all be proud of.
• And WE have accomplished much more… much more
We should also measure the additional services we have provided to students and families despite recent reductions in the actual operating budget.
My goal is to work in partnership with each member of the school committee to help you meet the needs of the people in your districts, as well as to improve our overall educational experience for everyone in our school system. I want to give you the support you need to work on important projects for our district and the people in yours.
This committee is made up of very talented people who are all committed to the same goal: to make our school system as strong as possible.
Collaborate with each other and with others; I believe we can do just that.
Thank you for your support and I look forward to working with all of you over the next two years.
I would also be remiss if I did not express my gratitude and that of others to Chair Adam Freudberg for his leadership of this committee over the past four years. He will always hold a special place in Framingham’s history as the first Chairman of the Framingham Town School Board.
Adam has dedicated many hours and worked hard in very difficult times to help our schools provide the best possible education for our students. It’s hard work, done mostly behind the scenes, and often overlooked or underappreciated, by people who haven’t sat at this table.
I know I have huge shoes to fill. I look forward to our continued collaboration over the next two years. I hope I will be welcome to call on you for your wise advice when needed.