Candidate profile: Brennan McKiernan for School Committee
Brennan McKiernan grew up in Wareham, and said he cares deeply about the town and the schools. If elected, he hopes to strengthen the community as a whole, and get kids invested in their education and in the town.
McKiernan said that many of his favorite memories from his childhood are tied to the close-knit community in Wareham: His grandparents telling stories about the people they grew up with, big festivals that brought people together, and the success of Wareham students involved with DECA, the Knowledge Bowl Team and sports.
He said that while the community is still strong, people aren’t always as involved as they could be. The record turnout at the April 10 meeting, at which the Notos Group’s proposed Hospitality, Recreation and Entertainment District was defeated, is proof of that, McKiernan said.
“It’s surprising, and it’s not surprising,” McKiernan said of the crowd who attended the meeting. “It shows how much people in this town care, but they need something to care about.”
McKiernan’s ideas about community inform his priorities for the schools.
He said that, if elected, he hopes to help the schools work to retain good teachers and support staff — teacher retention is a national issue, he noted. He also wants to help kids feel invested in their education, especially after the challenge of a year spent learning mostly remotely.
McKiernan said kids are resilient, but they need support.
“If they’re not told they can’t, the sky is really the limit for them,” McKiernan said.
Part of that support is communicating to kids that Wareham is a good town with a good school system, he explained.
“I don’t think the school really has a problem as much as it has an image problem,” McKiernan said. “They have amazing things going on in the schools, but you don’t hear about them… If kids hear that they have a crap town and a crap school, we can’t be surprised if they treat it badly.”
McKiernan said that, if elected, one of his top priorities will be keeping Wareham students in Wareham schools.
“Not because of funding, but more importantly, I don’t want kids leaving Wareham because they don’t think they can get quality education in Wareham. I think that’s the culture that we need to change,” McKiernan said. “We need to get more involved as parents, get the kids more involved, and start doing things with the kids rather than for or to them.”
He also hopes to help create an environment where problems are dealt with “swiftly and comprehensively.”
McKiernan studied communication at Emerson College, and has worked a number of customer service jobs since then. Currently, he works at Charlie’s Place.
“My years of customer service experience have taught me that everybody has needs and hopes - how best can we work together to achieve those goals?” McKiernan said, adding that he works to identify with people, empathize and serve them as best as he can. “That’s a lot of what i’m trying to do here. We all have things in common.”
Over the next three years, McKiernan said the fallout from the pandemic will be the biggest issue facing the school committee. Online education is a “paradigm shift,” McKiernan said, and one that officials will need to figure out how to best use those new tools as schools return to a more typical schedule of in-person learning.
He said the budget is also a concern, and one that will require careful planning, tough choices, and maybe some creative solutions, like community-wide rummage sales that serve both to raise funds and bring people together.
McKiernan also hopes to bring together the many groups working in Wareham to better the community.
“I want everybody working together,” McKiernan said. “We have so many groups in this town with parallel aims that if they joined forces together would be so much stronger.”
Brennan McKiernan can be contacted through his personal Facebook page or through the Wareham Helping Wareham Facebook group, which he founded.