Meet Mary Beckwith

Mar 12, 2024

Two candidates are in the running for a three-year term on the Dartmouth School Committee.

First-time candidate Mary Beckwith would bring 19 years worth of experience in higher education. She currently works for UMass Dartmouth’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion where she investigates cases involving discrimination and sexual misconduct. 

“The most important thing you can be in life is someone other people can count on,” Beckwith said. “I’ve lived by that my whole adult life, and I believe that’s what I am. I’ll show up, I’ll be prepared, I will do my homework.”  

At UMass, Beckwith has served many other roles such as enforcing the student code of conduct, overseeing student activities and orientation, and being on-call to deal with student emergencies ranging from mental health crises to overdoses. Beckwith said her current 9 to 5 job allows her the time to commit to serving on the school committee. 

Beckwith said she has a commitment to quality education and a desire to continually learn and challenge herself.

“I’m a critical thinker, a critical reader, so I really need to consider many sides of any issue that’s before me,” she said. “And I think that’s a skill that’s really necessary when you’re serving your community.” 

Beckwith’s son will be graduating from Dartmouth High School this year. She said that having a child in the school system has deepened her connection to the community. 

“Being a parent of a child in the school system kind of engages you in the community in a very specific way,” she said. 

Before working at UMass, Beckwith was the Director of Housing and Conference Services for the Marine Biological Laboratory. She said the role gave her a deep understanding of finances and human resources. 

In regards to the school district’s budget, Beckwith said the school committee has done a good job of collaborating with the Town of Dartmouth. 

Beckwith said that grants could be one option for supplementing the school district’s budget, but she added that writing grants is time consuming and not always successful. Beckwith said that investing money in the school system benefits the entire community. 

“It’s an investment, how else do you have a fine educational system?” Beckwith said. “And we all benefit from educated people, we all benefit from our children being well-educated. It’s an investment. I don’t see it as this cost that’s dragging us down.” 

Overall, Beckwith said the current members of the school committee are “engaged,” “prepared” and “respectful of one another.”

“They seem like very purposeful people,” she said. 

She also commended the school district as a whole for transitioning students to virtual learning during the pandemic. 

“I think they did a great job getting everyone online,” she said. 

But Beckwith does see some problems in the district. She said one of her concerns is the school district’s lack of ethnic and racial diversity.

“When you look around, there’s no racial diversity,” she said. “I think it’s very important for children to see somebody that looks like them in terms of their identity.”

She’s also concerned about the school district’s aging buildings. On average, schools in the district are 64 years old, and the oldest school, Cushman Elementary, is over a century old. She said that the warming climate is a problem in schools that lack air conditioning. 

“Students are learning in really uncomfortable environments,” she said.