Monfredo: School Committee Names Principal Maureen Binienda Their Superintendent
Sunday, March 20, 2016
Mrs. Binenda, South High principal since 2008, brings to the position 40 years of experience within the school system and has been an award winning principal with a great number of achievement awards … including the Katharine F. Erskine Award, Thomas S. Greene Public Service, Latino Institute, Worcester State University Community Service, Administrator of the year, MA Insight Partners in Excellence Principal Award and a great many more.
The School Committee had the awesome responsibility of selecting the next Superintendent and took it very seriously by weighting in many factors into their decision. From the onset I wanted a candidate who had a performance record as an educational leader, a person with integrity, one who knew Worcester and its rich resources. I wanted one who would reach out to a diverse population within our schools and make a difference in the lives of our students and their families.
I wanted a leader who wasn’t afraid of hard work and was willing not to keep the status quo but embrace positive change. A leader who put children first and was willing to go out and fight for the necessary resources to make our system work and one who had the experience of making academics and the safety of the school system their highest priority. I wanted a person with great communication skills, a good listener, a thinker outside of the box and one who we as a community could all rally around.
I found that person in Maureen Binienda. For 40 years, Mrs. Binienda has taught and nurtured the children in her care. She has gone above and beyond the role of an educator for she partnered up with the Family Health Center in opening the first food pantry in the system and later brought in a clothing store through Andy’s Attic. In both cases the students are involved in the distribution of food and clothing for she is a strong believer in community service.
Mrs. Binienda refers to herself as an “urban warrior,” an individual who will go far above and beyond educating and supporting children. In addition, she embodies my philosophy of making decisions that are in the best interest of all children and without a doubt has the knowledge, passion, expertise and the energy to take our school system to the next step. She will be an outstanding superintendent!
Summary of Comments from other School Committee members…
Other school committee members also felt that she would be an outstanding superintendent for member Brian O’Connell stated that Mrs. Binienda has not only demonstrated a commitment to the schools and the city throughout her 40 years in the Worcester Public Schools but has demonstrated an expectation of excellence. He went on to say that Mrs. Binienda has an extensive educational background including a Jacob Hiatt fellow at the Harvard School of Education. He felt her hands on style as an educator and her very active roll developing community relationships will serve her well as superintendent.
School Committee member Dianna Biancheria spoke about the passion Mrs. Binienda has for education, has shown a strong commitment to the school system and the city, and has a solid history of believing in success of all the children. She stated that Mrs. Binienda is the individual who would best serve as superintendent of the Worcester Public Schools.
Member Molly McCullough affirmed that Mrs. Binienda has not only demonstrated a commitment to the schools and the city through her 40 years in the system but has demonstrated an expectation of excellence among her students and her staff and has provided the tools in order for them to achieve excellence. Her very active role developing community relationships will serve her well in the role of superintendent.
Member Donna Colorio acknowledged that her decision was based on the information she heard from residents on the superintendent search and they supported Principal Binienda. She also stated that she has had the opportunity to observe firsthand the good that Mrs. Binienda has done in the community.
Mayor Petty was the last vote cast and he felt that Mrs. Binienda would serve the city and the school system well in the role of superintendent.
It also appears that instead of waiting until July 1st to take the position of Superintendent that Mrs. Binenda will begin her tenure on April 25th. Thus, she will have input into the budget process as well as the selection of personnel for the coming school year.
An editorial from “The Worcester Sun,” summed up the selection process best, “The 29 minute meeting ended with the selection of “ the person uniquely able and qualified to unite the community.”
Good luck Superintendent Binienda for the community is here to support you!
Related Slideshow: What Are the Challenges Facing Binienda as Worcester Superintendent
In the past two years, the Worcester school sytem was hammered by controversy after controvery. Staff being dismissed for child porn, violence in the high schools, and a malise of disenchantment with the system by faculty, staff, parents and students.
Binienda enters the office of superintendent with tremendous good will and great controversies throughout the system.
Transparency and Communications
One of the biggest problems in the Worcester schools has been the lack of internal and external communications. Too often, the then-Superintendent Melinda Boone was reacting to issues rather than being in the forefront and managing the issues.
Often, Boone was perceived to be covering up issues rather than being in the forefront identifying problems and offering solutions.
Issues relating to violence at the high schools and the implementation of security program were often poorly communicated and sometimes the public was mislead as to the state of the remedies - systems were not being installed despite promises that they were.
One of the tremendous positives of Binienda's selection is her knowledge of the system at the school level. She knows how to squeeze each nickel.
As Binienda wrote in her cover letter for the position, she knows how to manage a budget even during a period of cuts. She wrote:
"Even with budget cuts, I have been able to manage limited resources to support goal attainment. I have demonstrated success leading school improvement initiatives that work to close student achievement gaps as evidenced by South High's improvement in AP enrollment and scores for all students including minority and low income groups."
One of the biggest challenges will be managing the Worcester School Board and the City administration. While the former Superintendent Melinda Boone had her challenges, the area which was not entirely her fault was members of the school committee using their position to articulate broader political stances.
Most of the school committee members are no longer on the Board, but others could arise. In general, elected school committees can often be manipulated by politiicans using the position as a stepping stone to other positions.
Binienda has the opportunity to create a new culture.
Creating a New Vision
Does Worcester schools want to be the best urban school system in America? It is not a goal articulated.
Binienda has the credibility, good will and gravitas to take Worcester to a higher level of aspiration.
Worcester can't possibly be the best urban school system unless the goal is set forth and the pathway is laid out. GoLocal described Binienda in 2013 when she was named Woman of the Year in Central MA, as:
Binienda is called the “Angel of the Battlefield" for the work that she does in Worcester’s poorest school district. In a city where 10% of the kids are homeless, she teaches at the school where the homeless rate for her school is 20% higher.
Binienda and Worcester has a rare opportunity to make profound improvement in the school system, the only obstacle is self-imposed.
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