New Bedford Superintendent Reflects on Award-Winning Four Years
New Bedford Public Schools Superintendent Thomas Anderson was recognized this week by the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents with the President's Award. We spoke with him about his time here with New Bedford Public Schools.
How Does Winning the President's Award Make You Feel?
"We're in the business of people. None of us can do this alone. The recognition of this award symbolizes the work by the staff we have and the community as a whole."
What Are You Proudest of From Your 4 Years in New Bedford?
"I think it was the way we handled COVID when schools were shut down. New Bedford was the largest district in the state that had the most number of students in school in the hybrid model. Of our 13,000 students, we still had about 9,000 that were coming to school while a lot of other students around the state were still at home with distanced learning.
"I'm also proud of the cafeteria staff and their ability to distribute about 125,000 lunches from March to June of 2020. You had teachers creating video lessons at New Bedford Cable Access. It's hard to articulate the emotions that it stirs up because it demonstrates the true caring of New Bedford Public Schools and why it does what it does."
Specifically, What Kind of a Difference Do You Think That Made for Students?
"If people are not mentally available to do what they need to do, there will be no progress. So while we wanted students to continue to learn mathematics, reading and writing, we had to really focus on their mental health and their well-being. Physically going to school helped that."
After Recent Events, Will Security Increase Next Year at New Bedford Public Schools?
"We made the decision over the last year to keep what we now call educational facilities liaisons (formerly school resource officers). Those officers never came out of the building and will return next year. We also have more coverage at elementary schools, and we're equipping our buildings, looking at the entry points, assessing that with security cameras, staff and those types of things."