The School Committee Tuesday took a few minutes to laud first-year Superintendent of Schools Philip Conrad for his performance.
After he spent several minutes updating the committee on progress toward professional goals for the year, committee members took turns thanking and saluting Conrad.
Considering that his tenure has been shadowed by the Covid-19 virus and all of its consequences, “I’m impressed that you have managed to get this much done,” said committee member JoAnn Santiago.
Conrad replied by praising his leadership team, as well as input from his predecessor, Jon Sills. He added, “Everybody I have come across in Bedford is a member of that team. Everybody has the same goal: to do what’s best for kids.”
“You stepped up. It’s incredible to see all the work that’s been done,” said member Ann Guay. Brad Morrison said, “Thanks for getting yourself and us this far.” He said the superintendent should advise the committee on how it can do better.
Sarah Scoville commented on the importance of Conrad’s priority to cultivate his team. She also said she hoped the School Committee can find time this summer to meet in a retreat format. Chair Dan Brosgol added, “I’m thrilled with your performance so far.” The year, he noted, “is not over yet.”
Adding to the praise was Bedford High School senior Ryan Doucette, the student representative to the School Committee. “I can’t imagine how you did it,” he commented.
Reviewing his progress on goals, Conrad said, “Some things have gone really well. Some things have been more difficult because of Covid-19.” He mentioned his success in building a leadership team and his participation in the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents’ New Superintendent Induction Program.
He also cited “providing leadership in the area of culturally sensitive topics, really making sure that when we look at our equity we are looking through as many lenses as possible.”
Covid, he acknowledged, has been a deterrent to “getting into classrooms and digging into teaching and learning. This goal has been very difficult for teachers right now. I’m looking forward to full realization next year.”
He explained, “It’s really me going into classes just to meet students and teaches and build a foundational relationship, so next year we can talk about teaching and learning in the classrooms.”
Covid-19, he said, “has gotten in the way of being able to see the teachers the way they are used to teaching, the way they teach best. A lot of the things that drew me to education in Bedford have been on hold because of Covid.” He acknowledged that “some teachers are doing amazing things,” particularly with technology.
He said he has been working with Assistant Superintendent Tricia Clifford on the eventual implementation of the all-school literacy plan. He also cited “rich and wonderful meetings” with program administrators and directors.
Conrad noted that his formal evaluation is scheduled for early June, and that will include a full self-assessment.
Mike Rosenberg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 781-983-1763