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Plunkett Folds Them; Ends Race

by Erica Plunkett
April 18, 2014

A very wise person and a dear friend quoted Kenny Rogers to me the other day: ”You gotta know when to hold them and when to fold them.”

A very wise person and a dear friend quoted Kenny Rogers to me the other day: ”You gotta know when to hold them and when to fold them.” 

I’m folding.  I have withdrawn my papers for re-election to the Holliston School Committee and my name is no longer on the ballot. The past nine years have been the most professionally rewarding ones I have ever had.  It has been amazing to be part of a team who is so incredibly talented and dedicated.  While I have worked most closely with the Senior Administrators, I include faculty and staff, as well. 

I think, I hope, that I have been an effective School Committee member.  These nine years have been challenging ones for the District.  But scores have gone up and costs have been contained.  The Holliston Public Schools are a proven value to the community.  Our schools graduate students who excel in academics, arts, athletics, and service to their community.  We have teachers who, despite the increasing pressures on them, still give 110%.  The Holliston Public Schools are ranked among the highest in the state in a state that arguably has the best public education system in the country.  All of us who are part of HPS are good stewards of the town’s biggest asset.  We have delivered results that can be backed up with data and we are committed to supporting students as demands of the workforce change and the priorities of 21st century education change.  We do all this with some of the lowest cost per pupils around.

But Holliston is at a critical juncture.  The town must decide how to financially support the schools with a primarily residential tax base.  There is not enough money.   It’s great to have champagne tastes, but they can’t be supported on a beer budget.  A 1.5% guideline will not suffice if Holliston is to stay competitive, houses are to maintain their value, and the community is to remain vital by attracting families with young children. There are decisions being made about Holliston’s financial priorities that run contrary to being able to even maintain the current level of service. These decisions do not acknowledge the imperative of keeping the Holliston schools moving forward.   I hope that new school committee members will recognize this and will fight for the students of Holliston. This is how I’ve seen this job; above all, to advocate for our students when the majority of them do not have a vote.

I would like to thank my husband, Conor, and my daughter, Molly, first.  They have let me give my time and my energy at the expense of theirs.  They have put up with my seemingly neverending distractions and my sleepless nights.  They have tolerated me missing events and leaving vacations. Their needs have often come second to the demands of this role. They have been my support and they are the loves of my life.  I’m going to take the next six week to be present and enjoy the end of Molly’s time in the Holliston Public Schools before she graduates.  Thank you to everyone who has helped her and us along the way.  Molly has been very fortunate to have so many terrific teachers and I am extremely comfortable sending her off to college knowing she has been well prepared.

I would also like to thank my colleagues on the School Committee, both former and current.  We may not have always agreed on things, but we have worked together well.  We have been effective because we have been collaborative.  We don’t bully. We have all brought our own strengths and talents to the Committee and we are lucky that that they have been complementary.  We’ve had accomplishments because we are guided by a Strategic Plan which has defined common goals, benchmarks, and continual assessment.  I hope we have been good role models for the District’s students and for our own children.

I would particularly like to thank Lisa Galeaz-Weber.  Lisa and I have worked together since the HEPO days.  We’ve been a team for 12 years, we’ve laughed together, we’ve cried together, we’ve vented, and celebrated.  We’ve bounced ideas off each other and because we are so different, we’ve balanced each other out.  I’m glad to count her as a dear friend and a professional colleague. 

Finally, I would like to thank Brad, Keith, and Sara.  They are the three people who have made this decision to withdraw so difficult.  They are an amazing group of educators.  Having worked in some other schools, I can attest to their talent and their dedication to the students of Holliston.  Working with and learning from them has been the seminal experience of my professional life.  They have helped me through some very trying personal and professional circumstances.  And, again, while we haven’t agreed all the time, we’ve always had the same goal- to do our best for the children of Holliston. I truly hope the community recognizes what an incredible asset we have in the leadership team of Brad Jackson, Keith Buday, and Sara Ahern.   Holliston is very lucky to have them at the helm.   I thank them for their good humor, their commitment, their passion and their professionalism.  It has been an honor and a privilege to be part of the team.

In closing, I would like to express my appreciation for those people who have taken the time to say thank you over the past decade.  It can be pretty challenging to hold a volunteer position that’s really a job, if you’re doing it right, in the town where you live, where you pay taxes, and where you have friends.  Most of the time, you only hear from folks when they’re upset.  That’s OK, it’s part of what you sign on for and that’s human nature, I guess.  But to those who have also added their thanks, I’m more grateful than you can imagine.  You kept me going.  But mostly, the students kept me going.  Thanks for letting me be part of their education. I hope it serves them very well.

This has been an inordinately difficult decision for me.  There’s been a lot of soul searching and no small amount of tears.  I’m passionate about public education.  I believe almost nothing can be as transformative as learning and I believe there is no greater gift we can give our children.  I’ve spent more consecutive years in this position than I have in any paid job.  I’m so proud of the work we’ve accomplished over the past decade.  It’s hard to let go and I’m very sad to leave.  But it’s time to fold. Thank you.



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Comments (13)

Dear Erica,

Thank you for your service to the town of Holliston. I was a teacher in the system for all but the last year of your tenure. I was always able to obtain information about important issues through your thorough communication. Your professionalism and dedication was clear and much appreciated. Best of luck in all your endeavors.

Frank McGourty (Former Holliston Teacher)

- Frank McGourty | 4/25/14 9:44 PM

Thank you and Mrs. Galeaz-Weber for all the services rendered to our children and community. As a volunteer at other organizations, I know what it takes to be one. I have never missed a line of your meeting minutes - as they were filled with essence and information. Like myself there are many other families in our town that have benefited with your work and just wanted to let you know that you are regarded in that circle. THANK YOU.

- Selva | 4/22/14 9:30 PM

Thank you so very much for your volunteer service for nine challenging years! I want to echo others' comments about the excellent Minutes from the meetings that you created over the years. How you participated in the actual proceedings and simultaneously distilled massive amounts of information into concise, digestible bits, is a source of amazement! Thank you for distributing your notes directly through emails and permitting recipients to further distribute them so that as many people as possible could be informed about crucial discussions, policies, and votes. Please extend our thanks to your family for letting us share your time and devotion.

-Wendy Joslin

- Wendy Joslin | 4/19/14 12:59 PM

Erica, Thannk you for the years that you have volunteered to make this school system the best that it can be, both as a School Committee member and as a tireless PTSA volunteer as well! Thank you also for writing the school committee updates to inform us, the Village that raises our kids, of the work done behind the scenes. Best wishes for the path ahead!!!

- Nancy King-Bolger | 4/18/14 4:52 PM

Best of luck Erica; thank you for your service in such a high pressure and I'm sure, at times, thankless volunteer position. Enjoy your "retirement"!

- Kylie Williams | 4/18/14 1:20 PM

Erica, saying thank-you seems paltry given the enormity of yourself that you have given to Holliston.

No one has put more of themselves - their passion, time, effort and writing talent - into the schools than you.

You have done yeoman's work, for years, and put in hours that can't be counted (except perhaps by your family) not only to your work on the School Committee, but for years prior in PTSA, service that is near and dear to my heart.

Holliston is a better place today for your years of dedication, effort, passion, and grit.

Thank you, Erica, and thanks to the support of your family, for your service to our beloved Holliston.

- Joan Sousa | 4/18/14 11:08 AM

Dear Erica,

Thank you so very much for serving our town, the students (and parents) and the schools for these past nine years. Thank you does not seem enough for all that you have done for us. You have been an asset to the Committee and your dedication, hard work and commitment is sincerely appreciated! You have been an excellent listener and I really cannot thank you enough for doing one of the most difficult volunteer jobs in Holliston. Best wishes always and thank you again! Congratulations on Molly's graduation! Sherry Anderson

- Sherry Anderson | 4/18/14 10:42 AM

We at Holliston Reporter thank you for timely and well written minutes of the committee meetings. These minutes provided our readers with accurate and current matters of discussion at these meeting. We wish you the best and you will be missed.

- Bill Tobin | 4/18/14 10:37 AM

Mary, the times posted are not correct. There's no way I would be posting at that hour of the morning. Unfortunately we did not have a good experience with the school committee in Holliston during a time they could have most certainly helped us.

- Needed Support | 4/18/14 10:26 AM

To Barry and the other unhappy person, I'd be grumpy, too, if I were up doing emails at 3 o'clock in the morning, but gee, I'm sorry that you felt compelled to comment. Have you given nine years to any volunteer activity at all let alone one that draws wrath and takes countless hours?

Erica, I hope you can ignore the naysayers - they always seem to appear. I am confident that the majority of people are grateful to you, to Lisa and to the other officeholders that decided they could not run this year. These are tough jobs and tough times - they can suck you dry. I am glad you will have time to restore yourself. Enjoy and truly, thank you.

- Mary Greendale | 4/18/14 9:39 AM

This is comes as a surprise. However, having been there myself I know how you feel. Thank you for all of your time. Especially making sure that that people are more informed. We have been lucky to have good hardworking people on the school committee like yourself. Your efforts on behalf of the town are appreciated.

- Mark Schultz | 4/18/14 8:54 AM

Erica, THANK YOU for your 9 years of service, sacrifice, and dedication! I wish you the best of luck in the next chapter of your journey. ~Stacey

- Stacey Raffi | 4/18/14 8:08 AM

"I hope that new school committee members will recognize this and will fight for the students of Holliston. This is how I've seen this job; above all, to advocate for our students when the majority of them do not have a vote." Yeah.......that would have been nice...to advocate for students. Didn't happen when we needed your help or support.

- Needed Support | 4/18/14 6:35 AM



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