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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

My name is Tamika Olszewski and I am thrilled to announce my candidacy for the Ward 4 School Committee seat that will be open in 2019. I am an actively involved parent leader in the schools, Vice Chair of the Burr School Council and a Commissioner on the Human Rights Commission. An attorney by profession, I feel I have a lot to offer as a member of the Newton School Committee. My husband, Albert, and I moved to Newton when our twins, Morgan and Dean, were two years old. We chose Newton for its excellent schools and knew that our biracial family would be welcome here, but community doesn’t happen overnight. That happened when my children started school at Burr Elementary. There, I discovered an amazingly strong, close, welcoming community that quickly became an extension of family. For me, community and a deep sense of belonging, happened in and around the schools. That explains why I have worked so hard to ensure that every child in the Newton Schools is safe, welcomed and included. It explains why I am eager to assume the role of a School Committee Member and assist our schools in planning for the future.

The catalyst for my activism were the spate of antisemitic incidents at Day Middle School in 2015. After the revelation of the incidents, I knew that we had work to do to ensure that all students were safe and supported. We needed to talk as a community about all the things that might otherwise divide us, such as race and religion. I created a forum at Burr, the Diversity Chat, and enlisted the aid of experts to model a successful community dialogue around the difficult subject of racism and antisemitism. I became a Board Member of FORJ, Families Organizing for Racial Justice, a group that promotes inclusion in race, culture, and identity and works collaboratively with NPS to increase the culturally competency of the parent community.

I then became a Commissioner on the Newton Human Rights Commission which ensures mutual understanding and respect of all persons and promotes acceptance of diversity. I also serve on a number of other committees and groups working to advance causes beneficial to Newton residents.

While practicing law, I worked in civil litigation and I am an active member of the Maryland and Massachusetts Bar Associations. My legal background gives me the ability to understand and analyze complex documents, to anticipate various perspectives, to vigorously advocate and negotiate and make tough decisions. Further, I am a consensus builder by nature and I excel at bridging divisions. As a member of the School Committee, I would be an asset in negotiating the many school contracts.

I have been effectively working for Newton and for Newton’s schools for several years. I have been an ally in assisting NPS to engage with the community, and a bridge between parents across each of the 22 schools. If elected to the School Committee, I would formalize that work and be an even stronger ally to assist the Newton Public Schools in our district-wide goal of excellence and equity for all students. 

Thank you for your support,