I am pleased to finally have the opportunity to reach out to all of you in my official capacity of Superintendent of the Waltham Public Schools. I write this message with a mix of emotions. While I am very excited about the opportunity to lead this outstanding school district, I know that I am stepping into the superintendent’s office with a looming cloud of uncertainty caused by the ongoing public health crisis and a general sense of civic unrest stemming from the most recent examples of the tragic impacts of institutional racism. Waltham is not immune to the effects of the pandemic nor is it sheltered from the destructive realities of hate and division. That said, while my transition will focus heavily on the development of a safe and equitable plan to reopen schools this fall, I will approach this work with a commitment to better understand the factors that drive our decisions and ultimately help to create our identity as a safe community of teachers and learners who embrace diversity as a strength. As my entry plan indicates, my transition efforts will focus on three essential questions:
What are the strengths of the Waltham Public Schools?
What systems and traditions should be protected and/or enhanced?
What are the most acute challenges of the Waltham Public Schools?
These questions provide the necessary framework to engage people in discussions that get to the heart of the feelings of uncertainty and unrest mentioned above. While the Waltham Public Schools has much to be proud of, there is also work to be done. I look forward to leading this work as we build upon and improve the world-class programming all of the children of this community deserve.
I am sure you are wondering what school will look like in the fall. While our comprehensive reopening plan is not quite ready, I can tell you that we have a committed team of approximately 80 volunteers, representing all major constituency groups, working as members of our Reopening Committee to develop a plan for the fall that is built upon three priorities: (1) a healthy and safe learning environment for all; (2) a high quality education; and (3) an environment that is open-minded, inclusive, supportive, and collaborative. We expect to have a preliminary plan ready to share later this month and a final plan published in August. I will facilitate regular community forums throughout the summer to keep families informed of our progress and to provide a conduit for you to ask questions.
In closing, I want to thank Mr. George Frost, who ably served as your Interim Superintendent for the past 14 months. Because of Mr. Frost’s commitment to the Waltham community, the district is well-positioned as we prepare for what promises to be a challenging opening this fall. Mr. Frost was always generous with his time during the months prior to my official start and I quickly came to appreciate his pragmatic approach, sage advice, and honesty.
I continue to be both impressed and moved by the efforts of the Waltham Public Schools community to support students and families as we navigate a “new normal” in public education. Examples of these efforts further solidify why I sought after the superintendency in Waltham and why I am so excited and proud to be joining the team. As you likely know, I am a native of Waltham. I chose to become a public school educator because of the many kind and supportive teachers who helped shape me when I was young. I consider serving this community as its superintendent of schools a humbling privilege and I hope to provide the kind of leadership and stability our youngest citizens deserve.
Brian K. Reagan, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools