From April to June 2015, State Representative Denise Garlick entered various
classrooms of Pollard Middle School and Needham High School. Her lessons on the various parts of being a state representative drew in all attention. Through these class visits and numerous other events and actions, representative Garlick has become a role model for many members of the Needham and Pollard community. However, her journey to this position was anything but easy.
Before her campaign, Garlick’s previous life experiences were key factors in her decision to become a representative. Garlick, a nurse by profession, had noticed that an
indoor air quality problem at her hospital had caused many nurses and other employees to become sick. After being denied help from authority, Garlick became motivated to become an authority figure herself. “I continuously saw issues that were of concern and problems that I wanted to fix,” Garlick said. “And as I worked on those issues…, I learned…the best way that I could help the most people was through elected
office.” Garlick’s campaign to become a representative was personal. She talked to citizens on their doorsteps about issues that were important to them. For months on end, Garlick spoke to each person individually, and discovered many different concerns her town of Needham had. Garlick found solutions for them, including fixing the hospital’s indoor air quality problem, founding the Needham Coalition for Suicide Prevention, and creating other programs that would benefit Needham.
After being elected, Garlick quickly discovered that every day as a State Representative was completely different. “There is no normal daily schedule [for a state representative],” Garlick said. “I attend anything that I’m invited to.” Among the many events Garlick participates in is coming to Pollard Middle School and teaching a 53 minute class 20 times over the school year. In the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts, no other representative does this. However, it is an extremely important cause for her. “I think coming into the schools is one of the most important things I do, because I’m deeply concerned that young people are
getting such negative messages about public service and about their government,” Garlick said. “I want to be sure that I do everything I can to bring a positive message to the students.” Ever since she was elected, Garlick has consistently visited the schools for five years. Her visits have had an amazingly positive effect on Needham students. Before Garlick was elected, Needham high students had never before
participated in Student Government Day, an event in which Massachusetts students spend a day at the State House. However, following her election, Needham High School has sent students to Student Government Day for the last two years. Pollard students have also become more knowledgeable about their government through her visits. 8th grader Misha Panov learned “that working in the government…is[like] a meeting of people who want to keep their community safe.”
Garlick’s goal for the 8th graders at Pollard is simple. “I want them to feel connected to me as their representative,” Garlick said. “I also want that connection [to come] with that real belief that 8th graders will begin to see public service and government in a positive, affirming light.” Garlick’s ideals for the Pollard students have also carried on to all citizens of Needham. Her works for the highway system,
environmental protection, schools and local aid, and different hospital legislations have made Needham into the town it is today. Thanks to Garlick’s efforts for her district, the Needham community is definitely seeing their government positively.