Campaign Announcement 2023

I am delighted to share that I will be running for one of the three School Committee seats up for election in November.  I am a K-12 graduate of Watertown Public Schools and a strong proponent of public education.  I’ve had the pleasure of working in a few different roles within our district, including last year as a Math Interventionist at Cunniff, where my own two children are rising third and fifth graders.  I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Human Resources from Boston College and a Master of Arts in Elementary Education from Regis College, along with nine years of teaching experience. 

My candidacy is an extension of my ongoing civic engagement.  Since the 2021 election, I maintained my leadership position with the Cunniff PTO and also joined a number of boards and committees, including Watertown SEPAC, Watertown Cable Access Corporation, Watertown Boys and Girls Club, and the WPS District Improvement 2.0 Team.  Additionally, I collaborated with district leadership on a school lunch allergy initiative, which provides a meal option that is free of the top 9 major allergens and available daily at all three elementary schools.  

During my campaign, I look forward to sharing community building initiatives as well as outlining specific and actionable ways that I can help improve our district.  As a School Committee member, I will also work to find new approaches to meaningfully engage the entire community and actively promote public dialogue.  I plan to advocate that our School Committee members hold regular meetings (open forums) with the public, similar to what the charter requires of our City Councilors.  Personally, I commit to monthly opportunities to be available to listen to all stakeholders in this capacity, while also ensuring the public is well informed.

I’m running for Watertown School Committee because I am a lifelong learner who is committed to giving back to our community.  I value two-way communication so I will always prioritize community outreach and continuously work to find ways to increase public participation in decision-making.  I look forward to many opportunities to engage with community members as well as continuing to collaborate to provide all of our children with the most meaningful and successful educational experiences possible. 

Campaign Announcement 2021

My name is Jennifer (Holt) Nicholson and as a lifelong resident of Watertown, I am thrilled to announce my candidacy for the Watertown School Committee. It would be a tremendous honor for me to serve with pride and give back to the community that has given so much to my entire family. 

My children, incoming third and first graders at Cunniff, are fourth generation students of Watertown Public Schools. My husband and I both graduated from Watertown High School in 2003. I went on to earn my Bachelor of Science in General Management from Boston College in 2007, concentrating in Marketing and Human Resources. During my undergraduate years, I had the opportunity to work as a substitute teacher in all three Watertown elementary schools. It was during this time that my professional path became clear. I found teaching to be a dynamic and exciting profession that blends seamlessly with my personality as an enthusiastic, resourceful and dedicated person who believes in lifelong learning and service to others in all facets of my life. 

Within a week of graduating from Boston College, I began taking courses toward my Master of Arts in Teaching at Regis College, which I completed in 2010. I was so grateful to work as an instructional assistant at Hosmer, where I also completed my student teaching and learned a great deal from a team of truly fantastic educators. I was able to devise and implement lessons for first and second grade students focusing on positive feedback, differentiated instruction and multisensory approaches to learning. In 2008, I was hired as an elementary classroom teacher in another local district where I taught for four years prior to the birth of my first child in 2012. During my time as an elementary educator, I partnered in team teaching models, served as the third grade team leader, participated in our school’s hiring committee and mentoring program, and implemented a theater initiative focusing on character education and social and emotional development that is still being used in the school today. In recent years, I have continued taking online classes to stay current in pedagogical practices, provided tutoring services for children in our community, volunteered in youth sports, and been an active member in the Cunniff PTO, serving as Secretary for two years and now will be entering my second year as Co-President this September. 

As a result of my own experiences as well as witnessing my son and daughter both flourish at Cunniff, I strongly believe that we have outstanding teachers and staff working with our children. From the Pre-K teacher who gently helped my daughter overcome her separation anxiety to my son’s first grade teacher who penned a handwritten full-page response to a letter during the height of the pandemic, the level of care and dedication that our educators put into their teaching is phenomenal and does not go unnoticed to me. My children still ask to watch the 53 second video from the car parade that was held for families in front of the old Cunniff building before it was knocked down last June. Cars lined up all the way down Warren Street and the grounds were flooded with dozens of masked teachers holding signs, jumping, and waving to their students as they drove by. It was evident that the opportunity to see one another and say goodbye in person was just as meaningful to the staff as it was for the children. I simply could not have been more proud to be a member of this community and thankful to be raising my family here.

I am running for Watertown School Committee because I believe in public education and I want to ensure all students have the opportunity to receive the best education possible. Watertown is a diverse community and we have to celebrate that diversity and respect each child’s individuality. The vitally important role that families play in the success of a school district is something that I strongly understand. I will be committed to building public understanding, support and participation to help serve the educational needs of all students.

​Over the years, I have been asked frequently if I intend to keep my children enrolled in Watertown at the secondary level and it is my goal for all families to feel as confident about the learning opportunities in our schools as I do. Watertown is doing an incredible job of constructing impressive, state-of-the-art facilities for our schools and I want our district’s standing and reputation to match the image of our magnificent new buildings. 

As a member of the School Committee, I will demonstrate active listening, strategic planning and flexible thinking; I vow to always be open to collaboration and compromise to support our students, families, faculty, administrators and the Watertown community at large. I look forward to having many conversations with the citizens of Watertown in the months to come. I will always be available to discuss anyone’s priorities, concerns and ideas and can be reached at nicholsonforwatertown@gmail.com. I am committed to serving Watertown and I would be honored to devote my time to support our schools on a grander scale. I'm ready to hit the ground running and work my heart out, and with that in mind, I humbly ask for your vote for the position of School Committee member on November 2, 2021.


You know you're from Watertown if you recognize these references...

August 28, 2021

Everybody comes from somewhere.  Everybody has roots.  Mine happen to be from Watertown.  And simply stated, I am proud of that fact.  So much so that I coined my campaign website after it.  I chose the name “always a Raider” (www.alwaysaraider.com) because my life experiences in this town are ones that I carry with me in everything I do.  I acquired additional facets of my identity as an Eagle while attending Boston College and as a Panther while teaching first and third grade.  I am a daughter, a sister, a friend and a student.  I have become a graduate, an educator, a wife and a mother.  Through it all, Watertown has always been my home.

My daughter’s favorite food is the same meatball recipe my grandparents used at their sub shop on School Street, Jack and Mary’s.  Over the years, people have said they haven’t had meatballs as good as the ones my mom makes “since Jack and Mary’s” without knowing the connection that she is their daughter!  

I marched in the Memorial Day Parade as a baton-twirling Blue Bell and continued to cheer on all of our youth organizations and other participants who marched in the yearly parades that followed.

I met some of my earliest friends at the Watertown Free Public Library’s toddler story hour.  One of them is my son’s godmother.  

My kids love buying popsicles at the corner store that I will always think of as Millie’s.

The Watertown Mall was where I made my own pizza at Papa Gino’s on my birthday, bought CD singles at Strawberries, played skee ball at Dream Machine and earned my driver's permit and license.

I took part in the Cunniff 5th grade car wash as a student and drove our car through the same fundraiser at Cunniff West in support of our most recent fifth grade class this past spring.  

I applauded my classmates in the Shaw Auditorium for their performances of Grease, Alice in Wonderland and The Crucible.  I stood on the stage myself at Awards Nights and when being inducted into the National Honor Society.  

The Cops & Kids after school recreation program started in 1997 when I was in middle school from which I have vivid memories of playing floor hockey in the lower gymnasium at WMS.  I am grateful for all of the positive ways our police officers continue to contribute to our schools and community.  

My dad opened a savings account for me (with a passbook!) at Watertown Savings Bank when I was a child and he went with me to the same branch when I opened my campaign business account this summer.  

My mom chaired Scholastic Book Fairs decades before I performed the same role.  

I have attended the Faire on the Square every year for as long as I can remember and look forward to having a table for my campaign there this fall.

I narrated my 3rd grade play on the Cunniff “cafetorium” stage and went on to coordinate yearly theater performances for my future students. I still receive feedback from families that they were among the most meaningful learning experiences of their young lives.  

I cheered for my younger brothers playing football from the stands at Victory Field and I will watch my son and daughter participate in youth football and cheerleading at the same location this fall.

Twenty years ago, I was in Mr. Hayward’s history class as a sophomore when I learned of the attack on our country on September 11, 2001.  We watched the news unfold on a TV with an antenna on one of those bulky media push carts that was rolled into the classroom.  When I think about it, I can still feel the shock, fear and confusion run through me like it was yesterday, but I can also recall the heroism of the first responders, hundreds of whom sacrificed their lives in an attempt to complete evacuations of the buildings and rescue the innocent lives trapped inside. 

Ryan and I had our junior prom in the same ballroom that held our wedding reception a decade later.  

I played youth through Varsity basketball and worked as a counselor at Coach Harrington’s summer camps throughout college, where I had the joy of teaching fundamentals of the sport to school-aged children.  

I remember the modular classrooms in the back of the old Cunniff and my kids will move into the incredible new Cunniff facility this October.  

My brothers and I attended Camp Pequossette in the 90s run by the incredible Mr. DiMascio and now my daughter is a classmate and best friend of his granddaughter.  

I can’t get over how my son looks identical to my brother at his age when donning Watertown Youth Baseball catching gear at Sullivan Field.  

Ryan and I took every media course offered with one of our favorite high school teachers, Mr. Napolitano.  The classes were held in the basement of WHS before it was transformed into the headquarters for WCA-TV, where I will participate in a candidate interview with the legendary Mr. Kaprielian in early September.  

Our field hockey team has been and continues to be an unstoppable force.

My parents helped fundraise for the same Cunniff Cove that my own kids played on while forming childhood friendships that I’m confident will last their lifetimes.

It was my bubble letter chalk writing that outlined the first half of our senior class slogan that we painted on the top of the old bleachers at Victory Field (a tradition that I miss dearly): “Together we will be… the Class of 2003.”

I was elected Class Secretary all four years at WHS, co-hosted the Raider News, and wore my Raider basketball, track and softball jerseys with pride.  I look forward to seeing what paths my children chose to take in high school and beyond.

I am the daughter of a Past President of the Watertown Rotary Club, who provided me with decades of opportunities to volunteer and learn the meaning and value of service to our community.

Prior to substitute teaching in our Watertown elementary schools during college, I spent the better part of a year working part-time at Bath & Body Works at the Arsenal Mall, which I shared with my kids when we took our first family trip to the new Arsenal Yards earlier this year.

I was woken up by a reverse 911 call in the early hours of April 13, 2013.  I only remember hearing the term “explosives” and a recommendation to keep doors locked when I dropped the phone to race across the stretch of hallway to Will’s nursery.  He was 5 months old and sleeping soundly (which hardly ever happened), but I picked him up and held him close, not knowing what else to do at that moment.  We spent the next day in lock down, looking out the windows at complete desolation and questioning if it was safe to even briefly take our puppy outside.  Later that day, our Watertown Police Department and law enforcement officers from various agencies secured our community’s safety.  I narrated to Will as I watched the news footage that showed crowds of people coming together along Mt. Auburn Street in celebration of the brave men and women (including family members of ours, friends and neighbors) who put their lives on the line to protect us all.

Alongside my future husband and more than 200 other classmates, I tossed my graduation cap with red tassels up in the air in 2003, just as my parents did in 1975 and 1979.  I will watch my children do the same in 2031 and 2033.  

These experiences and many more have made me who I am today.  I have always been and will always be invested in this community.  I respect the good people who are from here and excitedly welcome those who decide to make Watertown their home.  I am thankful for where I’m from and acknowledge the need to work together to make Watertown an even better place to live for our children.  I would be incredibly grateful for the opportunity to give back to our schools.  Whether your family has lived here for a week, 5 years (or 5 generations like mine), I am glad you are here.  I hope you are as proud of your roots, wherever they may be, as I am of mine. 

Pictured above:
1. My maternal grandfather over 50 years ago in front of his sub shop on School Street, Jack & Mary's
2. Helping paint the top of the old bleachers at Victory field with my WHS senior class in 2003
3. A portrait of my paternal great-grandfather who immigrated from Greece to Watertown in the early 1900s

“Watertown Career Showcase”

August 20, 2021

I had the pleasure of meeting with Dr. Galdston today.  I enjoyed having the opportunity to hear her insight on a great number of topics within our district and I also was able to share some of my visions for WPS.  One of the ideas we discussed that I would love to have implemented in our schools is a Watertown Career Showcase.  I envision it as being similar to a Career Day, but one in which we specifically bring back Watertown graduates to share about their experiences after graduating and how our schools prepared them for their careers.  From my graduating class alone, we have a robotics engineer, a visual artist (who most recently contributed to Trolls: The Beat Goes On! by DreamWorks), multiple business owners, lawyers, doctors, teachers, first responders, magazine editors, chefs, real estate executives, accountants and many more.  When you consider the decades worth of WPS graduates and the incredible ways they contribute to our community and the world, I think sharing their successes with current high students would be incredibly valuable!  

A goal of my campaign is to increase confidence in the learning opportunities at our secondary level.  Hearing the success stories firsthand from people who were once in the same seats as our current students would highlight the achievement of our alums, build pride in our schools and hopefully inspire our future graduates.  It would also be instrumental to include middle schoolers who may be undecided about where to attend high school.  With our state-of-the-art new high school being constructed in the coming years, there will soon be access to an even wider scope of educational experiences.  The future is certainly bright for Watertown students!

If you are a WHS graduate and would be interested in appearing in such an event, please reach out to me at nicholsonforwatertown@gmail.com or send a message through Facebook.  I am compiling a list to be shared once this kind of event can be planned.  Much of the district’s focus now is on reopening our schools as safely as possible and all of the protocols that need to be planned for in great detail, but a career showcase is something to look forward to in the future!

WPS Memories 

July 28, 2021

I recently took time to reflect on my years as a WPS student and I came up with a list of some of my favorite memories. By sharing these experiences, it is my hope that you can learn more about me as a person and why I care so deeply about this community and our schools!

Cunniff Elementary School:

Kindergarten with Mrs. Boyd - The K classroom at Cunniff in the early 90s was EPIC!  Fun fact: Recent Cunniff families and students know it as Ms. Lucas' former art room.  I remember the classroom had three distinct sections separated with room dividers and there were endless opportunities for multi-sensory learning through play.  I still have my writing journal for inventive spelling that I've shared with my own children.  Also, I won a district-wide contest and my drawing was used as posters all around town for the WPS Art Show held at the Watertown Mall.

1st grade with Mrs. Tavitian - Learning how to read was so special and having the opportunity to later teach first graders to do the same was truly magical.  It was so fulfilling to witness children come to understand written language as they took solid steps toward fluid reading.

2nd grade with Mrs. Mandile - Two words: Worldly Wise!  I used to ask for extra copies of workbooks to play “school” at home!  I can also remember doing phonics screenings individually in the hallway with Mrs. Mandile.  

3rd grade with Ms. Depeters - I was cast as "Ms. Jingle" (a teacher who was putting on a performance with her class and only spoke in rhyming monologues) in our holiday play.  I still remember my opening monologue and I'm always happy to recite it so feel free to ask!!  I also did a US Presidents report on Ulysses S. Grant and when I needed to come to school dressed as the part for the presentation, I shocked everyone by wearing a life size $50 bill!!  I looked up to all of my teachers, but I had such a fondness for Ms. Depeters.  I think she unknowingly helped shape me into the teacher I later became and I coincidentally ended up teaching third grade for a majority of my time as an educator.  A few years ago, I received a message that meant the world to me from one of my former students and it also reminded me of how thankful I am for my own third grade teacher:

4th grade with Ms. Callahan - I can vividly picture Ms. Callahan's morning messages and how her handwriting always looked so beautiful on the CHALKBOARD.  Education has come a long way with smart boards!  I received mine through a grant that I wrote in 2010 and being able to incorporate it into my daily teaching was just as exciting and enjoyable for me as it was for my students!

5th grade with Ms. Hallal - So many memories from 5th grade, but I'm pretty confident that we had the most unique class pets of all time: cockroaches!  I kid you not.  We even made little obstacle courses for them on our tables using dictionaries.  In my future classroom, I stuck with butterflies and ladybugs, but I utilized many of the same learning opportunities about life cycles, habitats and anatomy that I did in 5th grade.  During this year, I was also published in Highlights Magazine for a poem I wrote called "Inside My Pocket" and I later used it as an anchor chart when teaching poetry to my students.  They always got a kick out of the fact that it was something I wrote when I was younger!

Inside my pocket I store

a kangaroo and a wild boar

a cowboy hat and some buttons too

and a really old shoe.

In my pocket there's a slide

and a diving board that's very wide

thirty dimes, forty pennies

and my little brother Kenny.

In there's a 1995 Chevy

wouldn't you think my pocket's heavy?

Watertown Middle School:

6th grade - My homeroom teacher was Mrs. Donato and I couldn't have been more thankful for her warmth, support and encouragement in helping me transition to a new school with all new routines.  I had my tonsils removed during sixth grade after years of recurrent strep throat.  Mrs. Donato visited me during my recovery with homemade vanilla ice cream and a book on how to make friendship bracelets with supplies.  It meant so much to me then and still does to this day.  She always went above and beyond and she was a true gift to Watertown Public Schools!  I'm so appreciative to see the same level of care and dedication from the many wonderful Watertown teachers my children have had so far.

7th grade - Ms. Lorigan stands out to me as someone who was born to be a teacher!  I remember her Social Studies classes would absolutely fly by.  She took the time to actively listen to all of her students and showed us that she cared about what we had to say.  I felt so validated as a student and valued as a person before I could even put those feelings accurately into words.  Meeting the social and emotional needs of students is so vital and I could always call on my experience with Ms. Lorigan to want to do the same for my own students, just as I plan to help ensure for all WPS students.

8th grade - I fell in love with Washington DC after our weeklong class trip to our nation's capital.  Ryan and I visited again shortly after we got married and we look forward to taking our kids soon!  I also remember how exciting it was to have classes in the newly constructed section of WMS as an 8th grader.  I can't wait for so many WPS students to share that same experience with the impressive buildings being constructed in Watertown now and in the years to come. 

Watertown High School:

9th grade - I was elected Secretary of the Class of 2003 as a freshman and served in that role all four years of high school.  I loved being a part of student government and collaborating with my peers to help create meaningful and memorable experiences for our classmates.  I also had the opportunity to co-host the Fine, Applied and Performing Arts Awards Ceremony at WHS as a freshman.

10th grade - I was one of two sophomores to make the Varsity Girls' basketball team (K&J!).  Also, as a vegetarian since age 8, I decided to show up in full medical scrubs for fetal pig dissection day.  Thankfully, I had the most patient, helpful and respectful lab partner ever!

11th grade - I was a member of Tri-Hi-Y beginning in junior year.  Community service has always been something that is very important to me and I had plenty of opportunities to participate in events held by the Watertown Rotary Club with my dad having served as an active member for many years.  I also volunteered to teach CCD to 6-7 year olds at St. Patrick's Parish as an 11th grader.  Fun fact #2: We had our junior prom at the same venue that Ryan and I got married at in 2011!

12th grade - I conducted a field study on Canadian Geese at the Charles River in Environmental Biology with Mr. Wilson.  I had the opportunity to present my findings at a science convention held for local high school students at Boston College and this experience cemented by desire to attend there.  My family received my acceptance letter that spring and casually called me to join them downstairs in the kitchen.  When I saw them all dressed in Eagles attire, it went without saying that I had been accepted and that day still stands as one of my favorite memories of all time!  Fun Fact #3: I am likely one of a very small number of WHS graduates (if not the only one) who wrote two senior thesis papers.  Completing one as a senior was a graduation requirement, but I was interested in taking both AP English and Humanities and the assignments were not the same for both courses.  After conferring with the guidance department and leadership, I was permitted to use the same Virginia Woolf novels for both, but incorporated an analysis on related artwork for my Humanities project.  It may go without saying that writing is one of my favorite pastimes so I didn't mind the extra work!