Thursday, September 8, 2011

Meet the Candidate: Francis Vigeant

Here is our second "Meet the Candidate" entry. Today, school committee candidate Francis Vigeant shares information about his qualifications.

Francis Vigeant

You have an interesting background in education. Tell us about it? 

I’m a first generation college graduate from a working class family. In middle school I became part of a single parent family when my father passed suddenly. I struggled through my early education because of an undiagnosed learning disability. I was no stranger to struggle and hard work.

When I started my career teaching high school math in Lynn, I encountered many students who faced the same academic and social struggles I lived through. I wanted my math class to be engaging, so I used hands-on science and engineering lessons with my students. When students built windmills and launched rockets everyone showed up on task. It was the right recipe.

I went on to develop curriculum systems that empower students to develop analytical thinking skills and engage in hands-on science, technology, engineering, and math, beginning in elementary school. In my capacity as an education specialist I’ve helped schools secure over a million dollars of private grants, increase MCAS test scores 12-33 percentage points, and developed communication strategies. Now I employ nearly a dozen people and support the efforts of many other classroom teachers and thousands of their students.      

Do you think that owning a company that sells education software to schools creates a conflict of interest for you, when Salem may need your product?

Ethical practices are my first priority. I’m volunteering my time as a member of the school committee to help improve this district for everyone with no intent or desire to profit. Throughout my service, I will continue to abide by state ethics laws avoiding conflicts of interest and the appearance of conflicts of interest. In the case of an overwhelming need there are provisions under Mass General Law 268A, section 20 that would allow other members of the School Committee in concert with City Council to pursue a product.

Does the Salem Public School System currently buy your product?

Saltonstall made a small retail purchase of curriculum and materials last year. 

You're a Mensa member? Seriously? Isn't Mensa just a club for smaht kids to feel superior and be snobby?
It’s true. I’m a member. Seriously. We’re hardly a pretentious crew; in fact we get together at Gulu, play games and grab dinner. Who knew? You’re all invited to do these wicked smaht things too. People in Mensa are genuine folks who enjoy sharing ideas and the company of others. I guess that makes it a club like any other club.

Why should voters make the effort to head out to the primary polls and vote for you?

I’ve experienced what works and what doesn’t work from every angle and can use my experience to guide our superintendant, develop policy, and inform budgeting to change tomorrow for our students today. I’m the only candidate that represents active business experience, active public school teaching experience, and active administrative experience with a proven ability to influence student learning outcomes.

There you have it. Sounds pretty qualified to me. For more information, see his website, Facebook page, or this press release posted by Salem Patch today.

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