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Monfredo: Superintendent Binienda’s First 100 Days In Office

Thursday, October 13, 2016

 

Newly elected Worcester School Superintendent Maureen Binienda in her Entry Plan statement issued during the summer time, acknowledged she would work to fully understand the many challenges the schools are facing and the opportunities that exist to meet those challenges.  She went on to say that she will examine district documents and operational practices that have guided the school district from safety protocols, curriculum issues, and parent and student surveys.

The event sponsored by the Worcester Educational Collaborative took place on October 12th her 100th day in office at the Durkin Administrative Building auditorium where she reported to the community on her findings.  The report contained an analysis of the data compiled over the past few months. It also highlighted the strengths and opportunities for growth.  In addition, the Superintendent laid out a “Compact for Public Education in Worcester” that addressed the issues of quality education for our students and the goal of making the Worcester Public Schools the best urban public education system in New England.  She also invited community members to sign the compact and work together to implement the Compact.

The First 100 Days

As for accomplishments in the first 100 days, she has focused on understanding the challenges the schools are facing and the opportunities that exist to help these challenges.

 “I used a systematic approach to gathering information from a wide variety of educators and community members. I examined district documents and operational practices that have guided the school district. I conducted interviews, completed document reviews, spent time in schools and performed an analysis of procedural and operational structures and functions," said Binienda.

As one who encouraged Superintendent Binienda to apply for the position of Superintendent of Schools, I have continued to be impressed with the high level of energy that she brings to the position day in and day out, her knowledge of the system, and her ability to reach out to the community and to the schools.  Superintendent Binienda was also encouraged to apply for the  position by community leaders, students, teachers and parents.  When asked about why she pursued the position, she said, “I was a Worcester Public School student and then a teacher and  have dedicated 40 years of passion and commitment to the Worcester Public Schools. I believe in the strength and mission of our district and have great respect for the dedication of our employees.  The students of the Worcester Public Schools and their stories of achievement and hard work have always directed my work.”

Since taking over the reins of Superintendent she has been most visible in the schools, and has visited over twenty schools since school began in September and hopes to visit all of them by the end of November.  A strong believer in transparency, she has been able to tackle problems quickly and effectively with district wide collaboration.  Community leaders have embraced her openness and her ability to make the community a part of her solution.

 When I asked Steven Joseph, Vice President of Unum’s business operations, about the Superintendent’s 100 days, he stated, “I think Maureen is off to a great start.  As I travel around the community I continue to hear positive comments about how she is tackling the challenges in the Worcester Public Schools.  She had a most impressive beginning pulling 3900 employees together to kickoff the school year showing great vision and leadership.    As she outlined her goals and objectives for the year she spoke about how it’s not only the responsibility of the 3900 employees to educate our children but that we all need to play a role in the process.”

Michael Angelini, attorney in Worcester and chair of the law firm Bowditch and Dewey, also had high praise for the Superintendent stating, “Maureen is a focused and tireless champion of education.  She is also very, very smart and she has a vision for our schools that we should all embrace.  Having her as our Superintendent is a special blessing.  I could not be more impressed by her leadership or more optimistic about what she will accomplish.”

This is only a small sampling of the enthusiasm of the business community for I’m hearing the same from higher education and most importantly from parents who have had the opportunity to engage in conversation with her. The Superintendent seems to be everywhere in the city…at the Columbus Day Parade, fund raisers for charitable events, at high school football and crew sporting events, meeting with business leaders and obviously at the schools.    Needless to say her involvement in the community has been remarkable and her passion for education is appreciated by all.  Superintendent Binienda is from Worcester and having worked in the Worcester Public Schools her entire career has the passion, the ability and the desire to make the Worcester Public Schools a district of pride for the community.

In an interview with our Superintendent I asked about her biggest challenge in the first 100 days.  She quickly answered, “Finding the funding for the necessary programs and personnel to provide the best educational opportunities for ALL students.  Obviously that led to the question on budget issues and how she is handling the lack of funds for the system.  She responded by stating that she continues to meet with community leaders and seeks support from our legislative leaders on changing the foundation budget.  In addition, she is also meeting with community members seeking grant opportunities for our district.

Moving Forward

As she moves forward Superintendent Binienda stated that her priorities are many.  She would like to improve literacy by providing a balanced literacy program in our elementary schools and interdisciplinary literacy in the middle and high schools.  In addition, she will be pursuing additional college and career opportunities such as PSAT to grades 9 to 12 and SAT to all grade 11 students during the school day, and have more participation in College Application Celebration Days.  

Also, Superintendent Binienda looks for continued  improvement in academic results through focused attention on teaching and learning, improving curriculum structures, providing targeted professional development, setting clear academic targets, expanding community partnerships and providing additional parent support.  It’s a very ambitious agenda and we all wish our Superintendent success as she moves forward during this school year.

When asked about what has surprised her most about the position of Superintendent her reply was all the email that she has received and “how people recognize me everywhere I go in the community and stop to talk with me about education in the Worcester Public Schools.”

There is no learning curve with this Superintendent for she has hit the ground running.  She is a fighter and a communicator who will never give up on the 25,000 students under her care!  Let’s all reach out and support her efforts within this community.

 

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