By Paula Ebben

BOSTON (CBS) – Boston Public School students have their first day of school Thursday, and this year there is a new leader at the helm. Dr. Brenda Cassellius is the new superintendent of schools in the city. WBZ’s Paula Ebben spoke to her as she begins her tenure leading the oldest public school system in America.

Until last year, Dr. Cassellius ran the public schools in Minnesota, but as the new superintendent in Boston, she wants to bring a very personal touch to her new position. She plans to live in a different Boston neighborhood over the next three years, and it sounds as though she hopes to make Boston her home for many years to come.

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“I’m here for the long haul.” Cassellius says that, “it takes time to move an entire system. But when you put children first – that’s when things happen.”

What is her absolute priority for Boston schools this year?

“Parent engagement is an absolute priority for me. Going out to the schools – we’re embarking on the 100-day tour to get in to all 125 schools, talk to our parent councils, talk to our teachers and find out what it is we need to do for children,” she said.

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Dr. Brenda Cassellius, superintendent of Boston Schools (WBZ-TV)

One concern that Boston parents raise time and again is the lottery system for assigning students to schools. It changes often and can be confusing. What’s her message to parents about her approach?

“Our assignment system is something that I’ve heard families have some concerns with and so I’m committed to them to look in to it over the next three months when I engage with them to better understand how we assign students.”

A problem is sure to crop up – and soon – this school year. What is her management style?

Cassellius sounds confident about her approach: “My management style in a crisis is first be calm, understand the problem, listen to those who are trying to solve the problem, and then put in place where there are gaps.”

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Dr. Cassellius will welcome students on the first day of school alongside Mayor Marty Walsh at the Jeremiah Burke High School in Dorchester starting at 7:15 am. Her theme for this school year is “Bring the joy!”

Paula Ebben