open letter newport ri

As someone who attended Newport Public Schools from kindergarten through ninth grade, I consider myself one of the few Newport City Council candidates who can give a personal perspective of our schools. I feel I must share some of my own personal experiences as a student. School didn’t always come easy to me, but I had a younger sister who always excelled, so I’ve seen both sides. Growing up, I was in the generation of kids who were first labeled “ADHD,” and at a young age, I was informed I would need an IEP and resource help, while my sister would find herself in AP classes. Having an IEP doesn’t make you any less intelligent then the next kid without one. It just means you need an individualized education plan, to help you succeed. As I’ve said before, learning isn’t “one size fits all.” I just want to thank the teachers we had, who gave me the extra support I needed when it came to certain subjects, while also challenging my sister, so that we were both reaching our full potential. I am running to work directly with the School Committee, to make sure that students with learning disabilities continue to receive the support they need and deserve, so that those students and their parents don’t feel they’re being forgotten about. While also making sure that students who excel in the classroom, continue to be challenged. 

I always loved English and Social Studies. When my English teacher at Thompson, Ms. Raffa, chose me to represent our class two decades ago in the school spelling bee, it was one of the highlights of my NPS days. I’ll never forget when my Social Studies teacher Dr. Browner, realized the moderator mispronounced my word, and he marched right up there, and asked that I get a new one. To be honest, I was so flustered I got the word wrong, I then got the next word wrong too. However, it was that extra level of care and attention, that I will never forget. I’ll also never forget presenting my JFK President Project in Ms. Hermes ninth grade Social Studies class. I worked so hard on that project, and I was so proud of it, and she made sure to let me know that it was one of the best she had ever seen. That is why I say “no,” to those who say Newport students are being “held back.” I can say from personal experience, my teachers not only did their job, and what was expected of them, but went even further, to make sure that I succeeded. They made sure I knew they cared, and that is what makes a great educator. I would be proud to send my future children to Newport Public Schools, but I would not send them to the current Rogers High School, because of the condition of the building(s). Our children, teachers, parents, and taxpayers deserve better. Our entire community has deserved better than the current Rogers site, for a long time now. 

My class was one of the last graduating classes from the old Thompson Middle School. The friends and teachers I had there were great, but the overall condition of the building was inexcusable. Looking back, I remember one of my classrooms had a bucket in the middle of the room, to collect rainwater that dripped from the ceiling. I can only imagine how much mold was in those walls. While I did well at Thompson, I can’t help but wonder if I would have done even better, in a newer building. I ask voters, before you go into the polls on November 3rd, please think about this. Even if you don’t have children in the school system here, what if you did? Would you want them to think that this is what they deserve? We could provide the children of this city with a new high school, and the state would be covering 52.5% of the cost. Interest rates are at an all-time low. Now is the time to act. It’s too late for the current students. But don’t we want future students to graduate having done not good, but great, because of their improved surroundings? It’s our responsibility as voters to make that happen for them. This may not be published before the Primary, so this is not my way of asking you to vote for me (although I hope you do on September 8th). But I’m asking you to please vote “yes” for a new high school. It’s time we start investing in Newport’s future.

Meagan Landry

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Candidate for Newport City Council At-Large


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