Welcome New School Council Members

The job of the School Council is to advise the Principal on budget, school improvement plans, and other issues of general interest. This year we welcome three parents – Liz Hiser, Risa Shames, and Chris Steele – to join the current parent representatives: Nancy Bauer (2015), Jodi Detjen (2016), Linda Green (2015), and Sue Kirshenbaum (2015). In addition to recognizing outgoing School Council Member Michael Oshins, the PTSO would like to thank Sue Flicop for chairing the School Council. Her leadership and insight have been greatly appreciated, and we thank her for all she has done for Newton South. See below for biographies of new School Council members.

Liz Hiser

I’m the parent of a NSHS Freshman and all three of my kids attend(ed) Mason-Rice and Brown, where I have learned a lot from the Principals as well as the faculty, staff, students and parents about the challenges of educating our kids – both in and out of the classroom – and the huge rewards in investing the time and care as a community to make that happen.

I was a member of the Mason-Rice School Council for two years and am familiar, at the elementary level, with school improvement plans. I also served as PTO Co-President at Mason-Rice and as PTO Treasurer at Brown. I am currently finishing up a final term on the PTO Board at M-R, where I have been a parent for 12 years. By profession I am a marketing person now volunteering full-time for a variety of non-profits, mostly in education, arts & culture. Even more relevant to a productive role on the South School Council are my long-term desire for our schools to be the best they can be in the context of scarce resources and multiple trade-offs; a willingness to listen and learn how it all works at the high school level, with a particular concern for making sure that all our kids connect and find their place here; and the ability to thoughtfully represent my fellow parents. I really look forward to that opportunity.

Risa Shames
I am excited to serve on the School Council because I believe that I will be an effective voice as the Council grapples with critical issues. Newton South has incredible resources and opportunities, but like any large community, it is often hard to determine the best resources for each student. The School Council can play an important role in promoting social and emotional health, creating connections and ensuring that every student is challenged and supported.

Next year, I will have a freshman and a senior at Newton South, who attended Bowen and Oak Hill, (Danny and Isabel Silverston). Professionally, I have a Master’s in Health Policy and Management and my work centers around health improvement and health engagement. I am confident that my expertise in health/mental health education and my experience facilitating cross-functional teams will be an asset on the Council.

Since my kids entered kindergarten, I have worked hard to make a difference in our schools. At Bowen, I coordinated Understanding our Differences for four years and helped secure CPA funding to renovate the playground. At Oak Hill, I served on the School Council for three years, where we implemented a multi-faceted survey about homework and worked to improve school culture. Currently, I serve on the PTSO Grants Committee, which has given me an understanding of the range of programs and services available to students. In all of these roles, I have worked collaboratively with principals, staff and parents.

Chris Steele

I have a freshman son at South as well as a fourth-grade daughter at Angier. I have been a volunteer at Angier for many years, from fundraising to Newton Serves to donning the turkey suit for the annual Turkey Trot. I am also an activist in many other areas around the City of Newton, and currently serve as the Chair of the Economic Development Commission.

I am most interested in making sure our students have the most supportive learning environment they can so their high school experience is both educational and meaningful. I have already been attending School Council meetings as a spectator, and as a result have been able to volunteer for projects on student stress and on the possibility of changing school start times. I am particularly interested in working on a later school start time.

My work in economic development and in the corporate world has given me insight into the careers and skills that our kids will need as they enter the workforce. I would like to bring these insights into discussion around expanding student activities that can better prepare them for their post-high school years. I am very pleased to join the NSHS School Council, and hope that you agree that my experience and perspective will help positively shape our school’s environment and our students’ education.