Jake Crutchfield has been a community organizer working to connect students to out-of-school programming in Cambridge and a substitute teacher in Cambridge Public Schools, most recently full time at the Cambridgeport School. This is his second campaign for the committee. For the past five years, he has worked in a variety of educational settings, including diverse types of classrooms. He has taught in almost every school in Cambridge, at every grade level, also developing curriculum and workshops for after-school teachers, and worked closely with educators and families to improve our community.
He has also played a significant role as a member of the city’s Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math Working Group. Jake started an after-school class that develops students’ critical thinking skills through structured inquiry, modeled on the Socratic Seminar. This teaching model is being integrated in instructional training for the city’s Agenda for Children.
Jake has a bachelor’s degree in finance and began his professional career as a financial adviser, but quickly came to realize he wanted something different. While spending a year teaching English as a second language in China, he discovered his love of teaching, which led him to getting his master’s in secondary education and political science at Lesley University. Jake says “education has become the center of my life, and I couldn’t be happier about it.”
Crutchfield has a blog here.
Supporting the superintendent’s District Plan Framework. I applaud the superintendent for making sure this was a community-focused plan that included many different opinions, ensuring the document was representative of what is best for Cambridge and our district. The strategic objectives and initiatives of the plan help give us a path towards moving our district forward, and the next steps of creating action plans for each initiative will be vital to our district’s success. I will focus my work to making sure it succeeds.
Hiring more staff that are culturally reflective of our diverse student body. One unique aspect about teaching in Cambridge is our incredibly diverse student body, one that is made up of a multitude of cultures. It’s important that our students are able to look at teachers and see a little bit of themselves in those role models. Having teachers that are culturally reflective of our student body means more students will feel as if they, too, can succeed.
Increasing community awareness and engagement. One of my biggest takeaways from working throughout the district these past four years is that communication is a major issue facing our district. The solution to most problems our district faces can be found in better communication between the schools, the administration, families and the committee. I believe the School Committee could be taking an active role in raising awareness about its work and getting the community engaged. As a committee member I would implement reverse office hours, when instead of the community having to come to the committee, the committee would go out to the community.
Assessing our assessments. We are at a pivotal moment in education in which students are being tested more frequently than ever before. Repurposing assessments means less stress on families and teachers alike. As a School Committee member, I will make sure that we are connecting with and communicating with all those involved in assessments, making sure we are putting students first.
Other issues for Crutchfield include providing all students with mentors, working citywide to improve third-grade reading, involving residents with the budget process and working with the city on providing quality preschool education.
Compiled from the candidate’s words and statements in publicly available sources.
Crutchfield’s statement to the Cambridge Education Association is here.
Crutchfield has a better attendance record at School Committee meetings, roundtables and hearings than some committee members. The fact that he has been attending meetings for much of the past four years speaks volumes about his drive and commitment. He has been actively engaged in Cambridge civic and education work, from working as a substitute or full-time teacher in every school and in every grade, not to mention his work running, developing and training after-school programs. Crutchfield’s committee knowledge makes him as ready to hit the ground running as any candidate could be. Crutchfield wants to turn the committee inside out – make it present in school and public life outside the committee room, to better represent the broad community it serves. He also has a very deep understanding of the entire development of Salim’s District Plan Framework; he was the only non-incumbent candidate at the two many-hours-long committee meetings on identifying goals and measures of success. His deep classroom and school culture knowledge, his focus on true community engagement and his understanding of the role of the committee in creating and overseeing district policy make him an excellent candidate.