Mary Bourque, Superintendent, Chelsea Public Schools, Chelsea, Mass. and Eric Conti, Superintendent of Schools, Burlington Public Schools, Burlington, Mass.
Massachusetts: Leaders Matter
Nominated By: Thomas A. Scott, Executive Director, Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents
Mary Bourque, Superintendent, Chelsea Public Schools, Chelsea, Mass.
Mary Bourque (https://www.chelseaschools.com/cps/news/1309/108/Superintendents-Update-1214.htm) is the superintendent of Chelsea Public Schools. Chelsea is a sanctuary city predominately from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala with total population of 6,400 students in 1.8 square miles. The district has 100 percent of the students on free lunch, 20 percent mobility rate, highest percentage of English language learners of any district in the state with 60 percent in the country 4 years or less.
Bourque was raised and educated in Chelsea, started her career there and has been superintendent for the past nine years.
She has been the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents president and State Superintendent of the Year in 2017. She has taken the leadership among superintendents to demand increased funding and resources for our neediest students. She has taken the lead to be the voice of these students through a legislative process to examine funding equity in the state.
Her active role meeting with state legislative leaders and being a point of contact to represent the challenges faced by a district with huge challenges and limited resources. Borque’s voice represents not only her children but the many other children in the state who share these challenges. She provides an active example of what it means to live and serve a community as part of your personal and professional life an extraordinary person.
Exemplars of Leadership:
- Demonstrated instructional leadership with predominantly migrant student population.
- Provided state and national leadership advocating for disadvantage students.
Eric Conti, Superintendent of Schools, Burlington Public Schools, Burlington, Mass.
Eric Conti (https://ericconti.wordpress.com/) has been the Burlington superintendent of 10 years, a suburban district with 3750 students. He was an appointed representative of our association to work with the business community regarding their interests to advance computer science teaching in our schools. Following his active involvement and research Conti became a strong supporter of computer science.
He convinced his colleagues, the governor’s office, the Secretary of Education and legislative leaders that this should be a fundamental offering to students. He guided his colleagues with a series of keynote speakers and workshops providing compelling reasons for this advocacy. With business and state government we now have an initiative leading to increased requirements and opportunities for computer science offerings in districts. The boards of K-12 and higher education will be placing computer science as part of the Mass Core, a list of course requirements for students to take to be accepted in state colleges.
In addition, and as a separate issue Conti, working through his colleagues in his athletic division, led them to realize that as a group they would be in a stringer place to change the start times for high school students. He took the lead and with much research and communication convinced his community to move the high school start times an hour later. The other communities in his athletic division are now doing the same planning with their districts. Conti’s leadership was essential to move this issue to reality in his district and create the dialogue in others as well.
Exemplars of Leadership:
- Demonstrates exemplary leadership in technology instructional program development.
- Demonstrated strong research-based leadership at regional and state levels regarding secondary school start times.
To learn more about the superintendents profiled in AASA’s Leaders Matter campaign, visit http://aasacentral.org/leadersmatter/. To join the conversation via Twitter, please access #LeadersMatter.