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Melanie and her husband, Terry, have lived in both south and west Medford for the past 26 years and are the proud parents of three Medford public school students, Ryleigh (20), Aiden (18) 
and Grace (13) and their dogs Griffin (6) and our newest addition to the family (new dog). 

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Melanie was raised in Lawrence, MA and is the product of public and state schools.  At age 13 Melanie became a ward of the state of Massachusetts and entered the foster care system. At 18 she worked as a waitress to support herself through Fitchburg State College and graduated cum laude with a dual bachelor degree in Communications/Media and Human Services and a minor in Business Administration. Melanie began working with several broadcast television stations at ABC, HBO to PBS, ultimately winning a national Emmy-award for the true story of a childhood friend’s disappearance.  In 2004 she received a MA State Senate citation on behalf of her work advocating for the children of Lawrence.

As the mother of three children, Melanie has been involved with five Medford public schools they have attended.  Her children have been in advanced placement classes, been active in sports and drama clubs and have received special education supports and services.  In 2007, Melanie’s third child was born with Down syndrome and a congenital heart defect. Melanie’s advocacy experience would be put to the test as she managed medical advocacy, early intervention and educational advocacy for her youngest daughter. In 2013, Melanie received an award from the Association for Special Educators (ASE) for her child advocacy work. That same year she became a Fellow with the Institute for Community Inclusion at UMass Boston, and also received the prestigious Allen C. Crocker Award from the MA Down Syndrome Congress.

My whole life has been spent advocating for children – whether it was for myself as a child, for my own children or for other people’s children. As an adult, I recognized what I didn’t have as a child is called “social capital." I didn't have anyone to help me get on the softball team, check my homework or fill out my field trip permission form. Thanks to the support of a few caring adults and teachers who went above and beyond I was able to feel connected to my community and graduated high school as a member of the National Honor Society. Now I want to pay it forward. I’m running for election to the School Committee to ensure access to high-quality public education for every child.

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As the co-chair of the Medford Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SEPAC), Melanie is a proven community leader in Medford.  She has helped hundreds of families navigate the complex rules and regulations of the specialized education process while simultaneously advising the school district on education programs and student safety.

Mark Mercauto, father of two Medford school children shares, “My son, Carl, who is non-verbal and severely impacted by autism, wouldn’t be where he is today without Melanie’s guidance helping me navigate a complicated special education system during a critical time in Carl’s life. Melanie devoted her time and knowledge to help Carl achieve a better quality of life. Melanie has supported countless other families in similar ways all while facing the challenges of raising her own three children. Her selfless advocacy for children of all abilities makes Melanie the ideal candidate to represent Medford’s families. Her knowledge of the education process and her passion for supporting children and families is the representation we all need in Medford's School Committee.”

Melanie has also served as the co-chair of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Parent Advisory Council where she advised the Massachusetts Board of Education on statewide policy initiatives. Melanie has worked closely with state and local delegates advocating for legislation at the Statehouse and has written testimony in support of bills that have been passed. In response to a community crisis, Melanie helped create a Medford School Safety Committee involving the collaboration of central administration, teachers, guidance, families, and staff — whose work was recently featured on National Public Radio — and continues with safety awareness events and individualized safety plans being piloted for every child. She has provided over 50 workshops to families and educators in Medford and created a district-wide literacy initiative for children with learning disabilities. In 2018 Mayor Burke appointed Melanie to the Superintendent Hiring Committee where she collaborated with community stakeholders to interview and recommend the current superintendent. Melanie has worked as an equity coach in school districts and has provided consultation on effective family and community engagement.  In 2017 Melanie graduated with a master’s degree in education policy and management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education where she was a Teaching Fellow on inclusive education. She received an honorary Ph.D. as a Doctor of Humane Letters from Fitchburg State University.

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We are often told education is what levels the playing field for all children. I know from my own experience, not every child has the equality of opportunity to access our public school systems. To me equality
of opportunity does not mean every child gets the same education; it means every child gets the education they need.

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Melanie McLaughlin
DONATE for every child.
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