Superintendents and other district leaders came together at Mashpee High School for a 3-day conference for the 27th Annual Paul J. Andrews Executive Institute. It has been a complex and challenging year for district leaders, who were excited to come together for a full and insightful program. John Doherty, retired Superintendent of Reading Public Schools and Chair of the Professional Development committee, welcomed attendees back to an altered in-person format with strong keynote speakers and a plethora of breakout sessions. Superintendent Doherty spoke on the conference theme of “Leading All Students Into The Future: Strengthening A Culture Of Caring & Building Equity.”. Tom Scott, Executive Director, spoke to the challenging year that our membership went through together and introduced Commissioner Jeffrey Riley to speak. “We have an opportunity to change the direction of education in Massachusetts,” stated Commissioner Riley.
Day 1 started with keynote presenter, CNN host Michael Smerconish speaking to superintendents about the current status of education in our nation. Additionally, M.A.S.S. presented the 1st ever Assistant Superintendent Leadership Award to Maureen Cohen, Assistant Superintendent of Mendon-Upton. Maureen was recognized by her colleagues for her strong commitment to the profession. Also, on day 1, M.A.S.S. presented 1 of 2 Racial Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (REDI) Panels. Panel 1 – “Developing a Game Plan for Leading the Racial Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Work in Your District” consisted of Superintendents Patrick Tutweiler (Lynn), Jason DeFalco (Blackstone-Millville), and Thomas Anderson (New Bedford) who talked about the context of their school districts and the work being done through an equity lens. Following these morning presentations, attendees had the opportunity to pick from a plethora of breakout sessions focused on moving forward after this Covid school year, focused autonomy, social emotional leadership, high quality curriculum, anti-racism practices, educational licensure, school facilities and many more. The day finished with an Assistant Superintendent EdCamp of facilitated discussions and a MARS/MAVA Roundtable meeting.
Day 2 welcomed keynote Professor Sarah Lewis, Harvard University, who delivered meaningful visuals as part of a thoughtful journey and important narrative to bring conversation around equity. She challenged our members to look at the power of the arts to influence our common narrative and culture- “Culture as the needed technology to stitch the narrative together.” Following Professor Lewis, Past M.A.S.S. President, Robert “Bob” Baldwin, Fairhaven Public Schools, was awarded with the prestigious 2021 Christian Daoulas Award. Thank you, Bob for leading us through this global pandemic with integrity, humility, and humor! The Day 2 REDI Presentation on “Strategies and Resources for Addressing Racial Equity, Diversity and Inclusion” with Supt Darcy Fernandes (Athol-Royalston), Supt Lisha Cabral (Easton), and Asst Supt Patrick Larkin (Burlington) was another successful panel. M.A.S.S. members were treated to a MTRS General Session and another group of thoughtful and thought provoking breakouts on non-binary students, a legal Q&A, MSBA, SEL and more.
Day 3 was filled with gratitude and student voice and was truly the highlight of the conference. Following an important legal presentation from Attorney Mike Long, students from Project 351 helped engage our members in a Playbook Workshop on anti-bias and anti-discrimination in partnership with the Boston Celtics. Project 351 students shared their individual mission statements on why they serve. The future is bright with these students. Culminating a powerful week of learning, Project 351 Advisory Board and City Year Chair, Charlie Rose closed out the 27th Paul J. Andrews Executive Institute with a rap (see below).
27th Paul J. Andrews Executive Institute with a rap (see below).
“Congratulations on your Summer Institute
A chance to reboot and address some of the absolute roots
So our actions and principles can be even more resolute
Its amazing to be together in the same room instead of two dimensional on zoom
So less gloom and doom and more getting our students in full bloom
To us at 351, Superintendents and educators are super heroes each and every day
None of you go half way
You deal with stuff right away Like the Playbook Initiative shows us and based on what you all had to say You are all so good ~ you could play on the parquet
So, Coming out of the pandemic
We need to confront things that are systemic
We need to care for the social and emotional, as well as the academic
How will we make kindness, compassion and justice epidemic?
What will it take to really be ready
The pursuit of justice takes leaders that are steady
But you all know that already
How do we take a stand to make upstanding standard?
MASS always operates with class
You have gathered and engaged with our Commonwealth’s top educational brass
After this week, we are cooking with gas
No important issue gets a hall pass
It’s up to us to challenge and improve the status quo
You are all remarkable and even more powerful than you know
As you prepare for this upcoming school year and get ready to go
We must deal with the highs and also the low
As educators, we are responsible for the flow of the show I want remind us of something that we learned a long time ago: That we reap what we sow
Thank you for helping our kids, my kids learn, develop and grow!”
We look forward to seeing everyone for the 28th Annual in 2022!