by Anthony Andronico
Full Text of Vice Chair Acceptance Speech Delivered at January 8, 2020 Ceremonial School Committee Meeting
I would like to thank my colleagues on the School Committee for putting their faith in me to serve as Vice Chair for the next two years. I want all of you to know that I consider this to be an incredible honor and a position that I do not take lightly. I’d like to extend my thanks to Mrs. Lebo for her remarkable service as Vice Chair – it will certainly be a tall task to carry out the duties of the position at the same level as she did. I would also like to welcome Mr. Santoro to the team – I know his 40+ years of experience and knowledge of public education will add tremendous value to our discussions.
I was raised in Quincy and graduated from Quincy Public Schools – each of my parents attended QPS, as did my grandparents. My family and I have always held our education system in the highest regard and considered a Quincy education, and our Quincy teachers, to be a step above the rest. Having served on this committee for the past two years, I can tell you without a doubt that our system and teachers are even better than I thought. But it’s not just our teachers – our paraprofessionals, teachers, Assistant Principals, Principals, Superintendent’s Leadership Team, and Superintendent – are all truly dedicated to doing their part to help each of our students achieve their fullest potential.
It is because of that dedication, along with significant financial support from the Mayor and City Council, that Quincy Public Schools received two major honors in 2019. We were selected by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to be a part of their very first “promising practice” reviews across the Commonwealth to share our best practices with other districts. Quincy was selected because of improvement in graduation and dropout rates for students with disabilities, economically disadvantaged students, English learners, and African American students.
In addition, the Clifford Marshall Elementary School was named a National ESEA Distinguished School – one of only 100 schools in the country to receive the distinction – for closing the achievement gap between students for two consecutive years.
While this is good news, we know that we must always strive to build upon the progress we have made and aim even higher.
It is with that spirit in mind that the Mayor came to the School Committee and the City Council with a proposal to build our very own Special Education Learning Center – so that every student in Quincy would be able to receive a top-notch education in their hometown. The programs we place here cannot be rushed, and require significant input from our special education community. As a committee, we have a lot of work ahead of us to ensure this facility is everything it can be and properly serves the needs of our special education students and their families.
This year, the City opened the new South~West Middle School – a state-of-the-art building that will allow our teachers to expand their teaching methods and lead to increased student growth and achievement. With this major item completed, we have turned our attention to other current buildings that are in need of a boost. We intend to resubmit our Statement of Interest to the Massachusetts School Building Authority seeking funding to rebuild the Squantum Elementary School – a building that hasn’t received substantial renovations in 45 years and is in need of an update.
Of course, most of our work focuses on programs within our buildings and policies that affect our community. In the next month, we will be rolling out a new QPS website so information is more easily accessible for students, parents, teachers, and staff. Recommendations to revamp our homework policy to reflect the best practices of today are nearly finalized. We’ve set goals to: identify barriers to post-secondary success so we may better prepare our students; expand our staff recruiting methods to increase applicant diversity; and develop a leadership profile for the Superintendent position – just in case Dr. DeCristofaro decides he’d like to move on after an unprecedented 19-year tenure.
To our students, staff, parents, and taxpayers – we are always available to listen to your concerns and feedback so that we may continue to build an education system that meets the needs of everyone in our community.
We know it’s important that we continue to push our students to achieve in the classroom, however, we know it is equally important that we push them to grow as individuals outside the classroom. Our ultimate goal is to graduate individuals who will work to make Quincy – and the world – a better place.