John Intoppa

Background

What motivates you to run for school committee?

Great question! As a recent graduate of the Medford Public Schools System (Class of 2019), I felt that there was a need for a “student’s perspective” among the committee. I witnessed first hand what went on within the schools. My platform consists of ideas that some of our students and faculty believe should be integrated within the Medford Public Schools. I believe with my experience and relationships within the school system, I would be able to bring helpful insight on some key issues we are facing today.

What experiences or skills have prepared you to serve on the school committee?

As a proud student of the Medford Public School system from kindergarten to senior year of high school, I believe the experiences I had within those years have prepared me to serve on the school committee. I was a part of numerous clubs: The Builders Club at the Andrews Middle School, Medford High Center for Citizenship and Social Responsibility, Medford Drama Club, Medford High School Asian Club, Medford Orchestra (Grades 4 – 12) and the Magic and Cardistry Club (of which I founded and ran). I was an after school teacher at the Columbus Elementary School in 2018 (Magic Club). I am a varsity letter recipient for Spring Crew and participated in Fall Crew as well (both as a coxswain and rower). I joined Medford Rowing when I was in the seventh grade and continued it until graduation, where I received the Michael McGlynn Award for my efforts while on the team as a leader. I participated in the Andrews Middle School talent shows and was an actor in the Andrews Middle School Drama Club and the Medford High School Drama Club. I was the Senior Class President of the Class of 2019 and was chosen to represent Medford Public Schools at the State House for Student Government Day in 2019. Also, because I was class president, I participated on the Medford High School SITE council. My numerous commitments within the Medford Public School system, I feel, have prepared me to have a diverse view when discussing topics within the school committee.


Vision

In the past two years, what School Committee actions did you support or oppose, and why?

I truly appreciated the outstanding support from some of the school committee members at school-wide events. Their support did not go unnoticed – being there opening night for the fall play, attending one of the many concerts our music department put on, supporting our Center for Citizenship and Social Responsibility (CCSR) member student leaders on their projects, and so much more. Taking time out of their busy schedule truly shows how much they care for our students and take the time to stay up to date on current events. As an individual who was a CCSR member, fall and spring athlete, actor in the drama club, musician in the orchestra, and overall student – I saw first hand just how many events our members attended. I also commend them for their support of the Credit for Life Fair at the high school, of which I hope continues, grows, and thrives over the years.

One action I opposed was the sudden halt to the A.L.I.C.E Program initiative. It had seemed that faculty and students were soon going to be trained and the program was going to become the Medford Public Schools standard protocol then all of a sudden it stopped. My hope is to get the ball rolling to get A.L.I.C.E back into motion within the Medford Public Schools System.

What are the greatest strengths and challenges of our current school system?

Our current school system prides itself in supporting our students on their achievements and accomplishments. A challenge we face are stigmas within the system. Stigmas such as “if I do not take high-level course class, I will not be successful” and the negative views towards mental health run rapid through some of our students. As a committee, we are responsible for not only the academic aspect of our students, but the welfare of our students.

What initiatives would you prioritize in our school system?

Some initiatives I would prioritize are the integration of the A.L.I.C.E protocol, a proper Adapted Physical Education put into place, as well as a curriculum integrated as either an elective or physical education class option that serves as a financial education class. This class would teach students how to open a bank account, write a check, paying a bill, etc. For more information on this, please visit my website.


Issues

Medford has a broad diversity of students. How would you address the unique needs of various student populations? Be specific.

This was actually my main platform when I ran for class president my senior year. I wanted to make sure my peers could enjoy their senior year without having to worry too much about finances. Due to strategic fundraising in the past years and collaborative thinking, we were able to drop the price of prom and treat our students with a varsity dinner, red carpet photo op, functional photo booth, and an ice cream bar.

This is why I now advocate for adapted physical education. I also advocate for a financial education program for students to get a jump on life skills that they will need for the rest of their life.

One group of students I want to address are those with allergens and diabetes. As a person who has a life-threatening tree nut allergy, I believe it is essential that students know how to use epinephrine and insulin injector devices to aid their peers, family members, and themselves in times they may need to give a helping hand.

If there are any other questions on how I plan to address the wide needs of our students, I recommend emailing me @ intoppa4medford@gmail.com

Do you have any priorities for the school budget? What are they, and why?

As of right now I plan on assessing the current budget and seeing how it works out for this fiscal year. As mentioned before – I would like for the budget to accommodate a financial literacy curriculum and an expanded health curriculum. I believe everyone should know how to use an epinephrine auto-injector, insulin, and how to be financially literate. This would call for an evaluation of our health and wellness curriculum to see how it can fit in with our developing sex ed curriculum, wellness curriculum, etc.

What role should charter schools have in our public school system?

I do not believe charter schools should have a role in our public school system.

What is your stance on the PROMISE Act?

I believe the PROMISE Act is just one step in the right direction to make sure our schools receive the funding they deserve and increase fairness.

How can we increase parental and community engagement in school committee meetings?

Due to my involvement in various clubs – I often found myself at a school committee meeting due to that club being recognized for a specific event (rowing, orchestra, CCSR, etc). I would often stay until the end of the meeting due to my own curiosity about what is going on within the city.

As a member of the school committee, I would like to create school committee social media pages to publicize the agenda and create a streamlined way to get the information out about the meetings. Right now there are many steps online that have to be taken to find what’s on the meeting’s agenda. Streamlining the information would allow community members with an interest or curiosity in the said subjects the “head’s up” of the topics that will be discussed. My hope is that if the information is easier to obtain, more parents and community members would come to the meetings.


Bonus Question

Everyone grows up holding personal biases. Please share an anecdote about a time that your own biases were confronted, and how you responded.

Growing up I was never sure about how successful the vocational program was. I had always heard the absurd bias that “students who go to the ‘voke’ don’t normally do well in school”. I never thought this, but the bias lingered in my head. It was not until I met a few of the vocational students that I realized how untrue that statement was. Our vocational program truly sets up our students for the workplace and I have personally seen some of my peers succeed more than I could ever imagine. Joining unions, going to college and finding internships while still enrolled in the program – shows how beneficial it is towards our students.

While I am lucky the bias I heard never made me negative towards any of those students – I hope those who feel that way can change their ways and realize the obvious truth.