BOSTON (CBS) – She’s an educator, a Minnesota transplant, and a Bruins fan in the making. Dr. Brenda Cassellius took over as Superintendent of Boston Public Schools on July 1 and says she is ready to listen.
“Authentic engagement is really listening and trying to understand where are the great opportunities, what is working well… and finding some of the gaps,” the former Education Commissioner of Minnesota told WBZ-TV’s Paula Ebben.
Cassellius has a unique plan to help her do that listening. She is going to move – a lot. In order to immerse herself in Boston’s diverse neighborhoods, the new schools chief plans to change her address, perhaps as frequently as every year.
“I started off in Roxbury. I don’t know where I’ll go next, but I want to go there, live in that community, go to church with people, synagogue, mosque, and go to the parks, and walk my dog.”
Cassellius said it is important to get to know families, understand each neighborhood and how it contributes to the city, as well as its unique challenges.
“It’s very different in different parts of the city, and the resources are different in different parts of the city, so knowing that firsthand as superintendent will help me do a better job,” she said.
“We have a lot of work to be done there to be sure we have high quality schools in every neighborhood.”
Dr. Cassellius wants to work with city leaders on a wholistic approach to students that addresses both in and out-of-school factors, and wants to engage families earlier, through universal Pre-K.
“One of the goals I have is that we will be parents’ top choice for their children, and that starts early, at Pre-K. So the mayor’s commitment to universal Pre-K is just fabulous.”
She hopes to stick around Boston long enough to hand those youngest students their diplomas someday. The keys to that type of longevity? “You have to be a good diplomat and you do have to be a good listener and you have to be really engaging everybody in the outcomes for the children.”
On some not-as-serious Boston topics, Cassellius (a former hockey player herself) said she plans to support the Bruins, is a “growing” Red Sox fan, and as for coffee? “I was surprised at the number of Dunkin Donuts.”