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October 22, 2020

Pamela Torrisi: MHUSD Trustee Area 5 Candidate

Retired paraeducator seeks more career-oriented academics

Morgan Hill Unified School District Trustee Area 5 has had a tumultuous history since the board of education was forced to create districts several years ago. That’s why candidate Pamela Torrisi thinks it is important to note that she will complete at least a full four-year term if she is elected Nov. 3.

“My area has had (trustees) who have been elected and then left mid-term. I know I will be here for the four years of the term,” Torrisi said in a recent interview. “My area is very diverse, and it needs someone on the board that is going to stay and finish the term and represent our area, our town and the children and parents in our town.”

Pamela Torrisi

Torrisi, 69, has run for a seat on the MHUSD board once before. She is confident that her background as a longtime MHUSD employee, experience as a labor union leader and 55-year resident of the district are more than enough to qualify her for a seat on the seven-member board.

Now retired, Torrisi worked for MHUSD for 34 years as a paraeducator. During that time, she worked with students at all grade levels K-12 as well as adult education. She served as president of the district classified employees and has been a volunteer member of the district’s personnel commission.

“It helps to know the workings of the district, and my background will be very beneficial” to the board, Torrisi said. “I won’t have a learning curve. With my experience, I can fill in and be ready to go on day one.”

One immediate challenge that the new Area 5 Trustee will face (there is no incumbent in the race) is the eventual reopening of schools in the face of Covid-19. The current board has decided not to bring students back to the classroom until January at the earliest—a timeline Torrisi supports.

But Torrisi thinks it is important for students to be physically present in the classroom, when it is safe.

“Working with the teacher, having a face, interacting with teachers and other students is very important,” Torrisi said. “I’ll be working to make that happen and getting our children back in school safely.”

She added, “We have to follow science and county guidelines. No point in bringing them back and shutting them down two weeks later.”

When it comes to curriculum, Torrisi said MHUSD should prepare students for the variety of career options they might be interested in—not just the college track. “Students need the best education possible, whether college-bound or career-bound,” Torrisi said.

She added that her background as a classified employee shows that, if elected, she will ensure these staff members will be heard and represented when negotiations happen.

“You have to protect classified employees because they are the first ones that get cut. But they are also the first one the child sees on the bus,” Torrisi said. “We have to make sure classified are protected, as well as the teachers and students—students are always first.”

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