On May 16, 2019, approximately 250 educators met in Marlborough, MA for the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents Annual President’s Spring Meeting. Eric Conti, Burlington Superintendent, opened his last meeting as MASS president with a humorous video about kids responses to questions about their future jobs.
Dr. Conti proceeded to introduce the keynote, Dr. Udit Batra, Chief Executive Officer of MilliporeSigma, to present “Perspectives: What Experiences Our Students Need for Future Employment & Civic Life.” Today, Dr. Batra leads one of the world’s premiere Life Science businesses dedicated to improving health for people globally. Dr. Batra has used his position and influence to promote K-12 education issues and recently received an award from the Massachusetts Biotech Council for his leadership. Dr. Batra is well positioned to understand the skills our students need for future employment and civic responsibility. Dr. Batra expressed that: “We know that even in Massachusetts, access to a quality STEM education is not universal. There are gaps that we need to close so that everyone, regardless of their background or race or ethnicity, has the opportunity to learn these subjects and excel at them.” Dr. Batra expressed that courage to learn requires three things, “1. Inspiring direction – something worth taking the risk for. 2. Competence – some level of skill. 3. And most of all, freedom from consequences – so you can take the risk and know you will be fine.” Speaking with passion and truly engaging the audience, Dr. Batra closed with ““what I know about STEM education is what I can share from my first-hand experience – from my own background growing up in India, and then later, when my family immigrated to Delaware. I know that good teachers matter most of all.”
Some educators felt the most exciting part of the day was the opportunity for Commissioner Jeffrey Riley to present “Mapping Our Way Forward.” During, Commissioner Riley’s presentation and video, he spoke about how progress according to our MCAS results has stalled in Massachusetts and we need to change to continue to grow and recognize that our world of work and civic engagement is changing and we need to look forward with what students will need for future success. He discussed his ideas for Pilot Programs within DESE to engage in a “deeper learning”. After Commissioner Riley’s presentation, attendees had the opportunity to participate in breakout sessions that provide feedback for the Commissioner as he continues to define his vision and where Massachusetts education is going. The breakouts focused on the topics of Deeper Learning/Accountability, Equity/Educator Quality, Wraparound Support, and District Flexibility. Former Assistant Superintendent and current Co-Director of the Assistant Superintendent Leadership Seminar, said it best when he expressed that he had been attending MASS Spring Meetings for 25 years and this was the first opportunity to give feedback on such an in depth and large scale to the Department. The twenty (20) groups compiled their most significant thoughts on padlet, available HERE, and then submitted all recommendations that will be compiled and released HERE within the next week.
Additionally during the day, M.A.S.S. was able to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of M.A.S.S. educators who reached ten (10), fifteen (15), twenty (20), and twenty-five (25) year milestones as educators in Massachusetts, while also recognizing those who were retiring this year. In the morning, President Eric Conti recognized the Massachusetts School Building Authority Executive Director, Jack McCarthy, with the Distinguished Service Award. The Distinguished Service Award is presented annually to a non-member of our association in recognition of outstanding service to and support for public education and the children of Massachusetts. Additionally, in the afternoon, President Conti presented the President’s Award, which is given annually to members for outstanding service to public education and the Association. This year the 2019 recipients where: Darcy Fernandes, Superintendent of the Athol-Royalston Regional School, Bonny Gifford, Superintendent of the Dartmouth Public Schools, Patrick Larkin, Assistant Superintendent of the Burlington Public Schools, Barbara Malkas, Superintendent of the North Adams Public Schools, and Scott Morrison, Superintendent of the Tri-Town School Union. (Please view the program book with recognition write-ups)
At the end of the day, Eric Conti passed to “torch” to President-Elect Bradford Jackson, Superintendent of the Holliston Public Schools, who closed out this exciting conference and had this passionate group of M.A.S.S. educators looking positively into the future of Massachusetts education.