By John Monfredo, Worcester School Committee Member
This week marks the official beginning of the Worcester Public Schools Chief Academic officer Dr. Marco Rodrigues as interim School Superintendent. Many in the community felt that Dr. Rodrigues would continue where Dr. Melinda Boone left off but it appears that he has his own vision and style, for on Thursday at the School Committee meeting he unveiled his entry plan.
The plans shows that Dr. Rodrigues did seek and listen to members from the community, teachers, principals and school committee members. The Stakeholders communicated their priorities, shared their expectations for moving forward. Thus, changes will be forthcoming!
Dr. Rodrigues stated, “As a former instructional assistant, teacher, director and central administration leader, my focus on creating the best possible school environment for students to have the opportunity to achieve at the highest levels has never wavered. My successful track record and experience in successfully executing strategic plans and deploying necessary supports for continuous improvement have prepared me to lead the district.”
He affirmed that his overarching goal is to effectively collaborate with all members of the Worcester Public Schools’ Community to ensure a safe and supportive learning environment that promotes a high achieving school district.
One of his first moves was to hire Mrs. June Eressy, a retired Principal and former Quadrant Manager, to enhance the leadership team. Dr. Rodrigues acknowledged that hiring Mrs. Eressy would ensure a seamless transition. In essence, Mrs. Eressy will serve as the Chief Academic Officer.
One of the problems mentioned during the tenure of Dr. Boone has been on communication and transparency. Dr. Rodrigues addressed this issue by the following action steps he hopes to put in place… hold individual meetings with the School Committee members ( never happened before)… visit schools weekly… hold monthly meeting with principals with Central Office Administration available for consultancy… create Superintendent’s Weekly update… develop a master schedule to respond to School Committee items in a timely manner… focus on climate and culture within his leadership team… schedule meetings with our State Legislative Delegation… develop a public engagement plan and meet with community leaders, cultural brokers, City Wide Parent Group and Parents in the Special Education organization – SPED/PAC, and in addition meet with families and the community in a meet and greet event by quadrant.
This one goal voiced by Dr. Rodrigues is a most welcome change and a most needed objective. Communication and transparency within the community has certainly been an area that needs attention and he is ready to address the problem.
Another goal mentioned by Dr. Rodrigues is to promote high quality teaching, learning, and support services to close the achievement gap and to ensure that all students graduate from high school college and career ready. Some of his action steps include rolling out the Advanced High School Academy, continuing to develop a multi tiered system of supports framework, focus on level 3 schools with turnaround practices in action, and to focus on efforts to improve graduation rates.
Safety will certainly be a high priority with this administration for his goal is to build on School Safety practices that encourage a respectful positive climate and culture. One of his first action steps is to have the School Safety Liaison report directly to the interim Superintendent. This is a positive change for it did not take place before. He is also looking to revise and review the Memorandum of understanding with the Worcester Public Schools and the Worcester Police Department. Other action steps include:
- Create a School Climate and Culture Report Card
• Develop a Student/Family friendly guide to student discipline
• Develop training for school administrators and police officers to support the school resource officer model
• Create a safety advisory committee ( secondary, middle, elementary school principals, school resource officers, Worcester Juvenile Court, School Safety Liaison, Chief Financial/Operations Officer, Child Study, and teachers)
• Evaluate Safety Audit report findings and recommendations
A final goal will be to ensure that the FY 17 budget process is student-centered and is aligned with the seven point financial plan for advancing student achievement and program sustainability. This process is the same as to what took place in the Boone administration with a zero based budget approach.
Instead of just holding on to what has taken place in the past, Dr. Rodrigues is willing to make changes that need to be made as we move forward and that’s a good sign for the district.
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This article also appears on golocalworcester.com