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The Student News Site of Everett High School, Everett MA

The Crimson Times

The Student News Site of Everett High School, Everett MA

The Crimson Times

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Meet Superintendent Hart

David O’Connor
Superintendent Hart talks to the Crimson Times about his life, his passion for work, and how he sees his role as the newest Superintendent of Schools.

Victoria: What would you like to go by? Mr. Hart? Mr. Superintendent?

Hart: Mr. Hart’s fine. Or Bill (for the people that know me).

Victoria: So, tell me about yourself!

Hart: Great! I come from Everett. I was born at the Whidden Hospital, now called Cambridge Health Alliance Hospital in Everett. I lived on Broadway most of my childhood and through my early adult life and then I bought my own home. My first home was purchased in Everett on Freeman Ave. which is here on the Woodlawn section of Everett. I attended the Lafayette Grammar School, which at that point was what I called the Lafayette Two because it was the second building to the original, which was built in the late 1800s. My family, both parents, both came to Everett. My mother was born in East Boston, her family were Italian immigrants who came to America from Italy and settled originally in the North End, moved to East Boston, then moved to Everett. My dad’s family, like many older Everett families, were either Irish or Italian or a mixture of both and I’m a mixture of both. One of my first jobs was with the City of Everett as a sixteen year old, so that’s a little bit about my early years and then I went on into higher education. I went to Merrimack College where I love being part of that community and furthered my degree with a master’s program in Boston at Suffolk University and have worked full-time just about all of my adult life or even younger. I paid for my own tuition to go to school. My parents were both blue-collar workers and supported what they could and I tried to make up for the difference. I have been involved with many different social, religious, civic organizations. I was formerly a Saint Teresa Parish parishioner, I lived three houses over from the church and I was very engaged, you know, altar boy, CCD teacher. I stayed involved. I am a member of the Everett Chamber of Commerce. I’ve held leadership roles and currently sit on the Board of Directors and have been past president there and I’ve volunteered my time with so many different organizations. The Special Needs Boy Scouts, the troop that was out of the American Legion. I’ve also worked with a lot of special needs children when the city offered them day programs during the summer and on the weekends during the winter. I did that for several years. Actually, I think the woman who ran it for the city, her husband, was an Everett High school teacher. So I have a lot of different relationships with different organizations in the city over the years because I felt like giving back was important, I still feel that way. I stay actively engaged in many charitable organizations as well. And in this role I feel I can make a contribution, make a positive contribution for however long I’m here because the community is something I care about, love and commit to.

Victoria: You once were Vice President of Bunker Hill Community College, what made you want to tackle the role of superintendent?

Hart: I always believed, and still do, that education is really a great equalizer for people. It helps put people, young people, any age really, to engage in education, whether its training or a fully accredited program. I got to put them in a better place in life. When I went to teach at Bunker Hill, which is how I started there—scratch that—I took classes at Bunker Hill when I switched majors while I was at Merrimack because one of the things I learned was I needed to make sure I graduate. The old standard was you had to graduate in four years, right? So I’m thinking, “Oh my gosh, I’ve changed majors, different requirements!” I took summer classes at Bunker Hill. It was, at the time, cheaper to go there than paying to take classes at Merrimack, it was around the corner and, here’s the big one, it was air conditioned and I could go there in the summer. So, I did that and I was able to transfer all my credits without a problem. I realized that it was accredited just like this school, every college around by NEASC which, I knew that it wasn’t the place I thought it was and then I was offered an opportunity to teach, really by happenstance, and I had the credential to teach so I began and I found that to be one of the most rewarding experiences I had up to that point in my career. I loved, at that time, the diversity of the classes that I taught and since then, the cultural shift at the colleges continued to change. And so my last role at the institution was the Senior Vice President of Communications but I had some program areas underneath me, because the college president believed that I had the ability to do more than just the big division I had, which probably gave me less hair on my head, but I did do it and I love the work and eventually, I was recognized by even higher leaders until I moved from that role to the role that I retired from which was the Chief Executive of the fifteen community colleges which are in Massachusetts. So those things energized me and Bunker Hill still remains a great place for people to start their higher education. So that was how I ended up there. I just knew it was the work I had to do.

Mr. Wright: I’ve been teaching seniors for many years and watching them with the college application process and that is still such a great option for so many seniors. I hear them talking about it all the time.

Mr. Hart: People all the time, even my own family, especially when kids don’t know what they want to do and they think that if they wait a year that maybe they won’t go and that’s true, you know. The longer you wait to engage in the next step, you’re more likely to not do it until it’s too late. So I always say, recently I talked to a cousin of mine, I said, “Make sure that even if they start a few classes, let’s keep the momentum going.” It’s a great option. As I said, it’s an accredited body of education. The people don’t think that way. It’s credited the same way, same principles but different standards.

Victoria: Did you ever want to become superintendent?

Mr. Hart: Want? Did I think about it? Yes. I think want is something that is a feeling that I had hoped I’d deserve to become superintendent someday. I always looked at opportunities to explore that but I was on a different track. I was in a kind of college but, sidestory, when I was a younger person, I was always very involved with politics. I was elected when I was a senior in college to a local city council here in Everett, at that time it was the only bicameral form of government in the United States. They had the City Council and the Board of Aldermen. Some cities had one or the other but not both. Everett was the last city to switch over so, I was serving on that then also ended up serving on the school committee years after that and knew that I liked the work, I like education, I like to be involved in moving the needle, so to speak and helping people get to better places through education. But, besides parents, I remember one of my friends, who was a political friend said to me, “You know, I know the top spot is mayor but I think the superintendency is the best place for you,” and I wish that person was still alive, along with my parents because I agree, I believe you touch people in a most significant way in this role than you can in any other role that we have. Yes, each person is responsible for a certain amount of work in your city, whether it’s the City Council or the mayor or a state senator or representative, but this is so critical that you really don’t have time to make too many mistakes because you screw up a lot of people. I would feel morally neglectful if I don’t do the right thing or the best thing I can do so, did  I want to? Not necessarily. Did I think it was the right place for me? Yes.

Victoria: How do you think your connection to Everett will help you in this role?

Mr. Hart: I think I have some equity in this town in terms of the mechanics of the business of education, whether it’s at this level or helping young people move from here to higher education. I think those connections that I have from my previous professional world can support the work of folks leaving Everett to go on to higher education or training of a different type. I think the fact that I have grown here as an individual and Everett has been wonderful to me in so many ways. I am just believing and I hope that this year that I am going to do the right things because it’s a personal sense of pride that what we do here at this school or any school is so important not just for me, but for everyone that comes through those doors and my goal for however long I’m here is to make sure we’re safe. We need to provide the resources for faculty to do right by the students that we are in charge of helping. If you don’t catch people early on, you have missed opportunities and while I’m here, I don’t want to miss those opportunities if I have control over it. The sense of this community to me is more than just a job, this is my city. I feel confident in no other place. This is me, this is me being here. I feel good about doing this work because its good work and I know that this is a good city. 

Reporter Victoria Macao (right) consults her notes before asking the next question. (David O’Connor)

Victoria: What is something you want Everett students to know about you personally?

Hart: Well, I’m from here and I understand some of the struggles that I’m sure some of the folks are going through like I did. Well, not as difficult. I was fortunate to have a two-parent family and have two incomes. I know that so many people, not just here in Everett, don’t have a two-person family unit for financial support and I’ve unfortunately learned here that so many of our young people have real heavy responsibilities before they walk in our doors. It pains me that I can’t change that. I can only make their experience here or whatever school they walk into the best that it can be in whatever I can do as your superintendent and rely on people in leadership roles to do the rest. I want them to know that I understand their struggles even though I’m much older than them. I think perseverance and commitment to moving yourself up will also help these young people. I don’t mean to be philosophical but I do think that regardless of my age, gender, race or my ethnicity, I faced similar, maybe not as significant as our young people do today, similar challenges as I made my way through grammar school unto each level of school I pursued. 

Victoria: What kind of values do you live by?

Hart: Hard work. Determination. Commitment. I tend to be pretty straightforward. You will always know where you stand with me, even if what I have to say is difficult. I’m very frank about my expectations and I want people to know that I am my own person and that I take direction from nobody except the people authorized to give me directions. Whether its an elected school committee or someone up above. I’m not beholden to anybody and I have my own set of principles. I believe in following a process when I do what I do. I also don’t tolerate people who are fakers, phonies, storytellers. It’s kind of an operating principle I live by. That’s why I tend to be a bit more direct, you know? “Cut the baloney, I already know.”

Victoria: What professional challenges have you faced in the past?

Hart: The last position I held before was a significant role and the challenge for that was, it wasn’t the work, it was the people you hoped would be running on the same cylinders as you are and shared that same commitment to your work. While I worked with talented and educated people, they didn;t necessarily share my energy sometimes and I tried to keep people engaged. Sometimes they don’t and those are the challenges and they are well-educated, highly-skilled people that often took the easy path. I like to face challenges head on. I think that, for me, was a challenge because my expectations were different from what they gave me back in performance. A life lesson for Bill Hart was: Guess what? Not everyone shares the same energy as you and that’s ok.

Victoria: What are your three main priorities in the near future?

Hart: First and foremost, the safety of our schools. I’m not afraid of the work and challenges in general. I’m afraid of what I can’t control with the public safely. I am increasingly concerned whenever I read news from other cities and states. I’m worried about external factors hurting anybody in these buildings. We need to bring every reasonable option to the table to protect our folks. Whether its new technology, new strategies, better conversation. Number two is making sure that we have the resources to deliver what I mentioned earlier. We live in a pretty decent environment here in Everett and it seems to be that, after examining school budgets, we are doing okay. I think we have to really broaden the conversation to include more people about more things we need to do with the resources we already have. Are we deploying them correctly now? Should we be deploying more? If we are deploying more, then where? You know, create a strategy. Third on my list would be, are we being the best, as a system, stewards of our young people? Have we done everything? Have we looked at other practices? Have we talked frankly with one another about what curriculum we are providing? So that’s the three, off the top of my head, that I would say are the most important at this moment but it certainly doesn’t negate the others that may follow.

Victoria: Have you attended any school events? We recently had a school play about the Seven Deadly Sins.

Hart: Yes, the Seven Deadly Sins! I was here! My first weekend was lugging band equipment in Lawrence and then I went to the, oddly enough, football game in Lawrence that following weekend and have been invited to other school events that have been peppered throughout the day. I have made an attempt to do some kind of meet and greet with students and family, of course, weather permitting. I’m a scaredy cat with rain and snow so you won’t see me out front. I try to make any in-house visits so I can see students and staff to the extent that I can and try to get a birds eye view of the learning. Sidenote, this was one of my best school visits when I came here. I was enormously excited to be able to get out of my head any perceptions of high school during late entrance and high school during the day. Many people didn’t know I was here and as I kind of glanced, there was real learning going on in the classroom, order in the hallways and, like I said, I don’t know the magic but I was happy to see that! I guess I had a different expectation and wrong, I was very pleased. I’ve tried to attend as many as I am physically able to in the times during the week but I have attended many. 

Victoria: You mentioned expectations, like when you were walking around the schools and going into classrooms, what were those expectations, if you don’t mind me asking?

Hart: Well, I hoped that I was going to find what I saw here and I did see it in the grammar schools as well. There’s real learning being facilitated here and happening in the classrooms. I couldn’t hear the content but certainly some of the faculty members when they saw me, they invited me in a moment. Just being in the buildings, I got exposed to things that I’m happy to see happening. Granted, not in the best locations. I mean we have some schools that are providing learning support under stairwells and hallways and that just isn’t optimal for lots of reasons. Principals and others are making do with modified learning spaces and I think if, aside from other distractions in the hallway that invariably exist, if the teacher or the professional is engaging that student, I think it will be a valuable exchange during that time. 

Victoria: Here are some fun questions. Just rapid fire questions. Nothing too serious but you can’t say the wrong thing. Alright! First question, what is your dream job?

Hart: Superintendent of schools!

Victoria: You’re a new edition to the crayon box, what color would you be and why?

Hart: Red. Strong, ready and vibrant.

Victoria: What is your favorite 90’s song?

Hart: You’re gonna laugh. Well, I’m a Whitney Houston fan so I don’t know but you are gonna see the trend here. I do play old music, you know, Frank Sinatra. I am not that old but I do appreciate the crooners, the classics, I felt like those people had real talent. 

Victoria: What is the scariest movie you’ve ever seen?

Hart: Friday the 13th. The very first one that came out. I was at the Revere Cinema.

From left to right: EHS principal Dennis Lynch, Crimson Times adviser Christopher Wright, senior reporter Victoria Macao (seated), Superintendent William Hart, English Department Head Ryan McGowan (David O’Connor)

Victoria: What are you doing when you feel the most alive?

Hart: This sounds corny but it’s the truth, when I’m working. Well again, I love the energy of people going in the same direction. I like to work. I love being with family, don’t get me wrong but sometimes they drive me crazy.

Victoria: One more, what is your favorite kind of sandwich?

Hart: Easily the chicken salad sandwich with a slice of tomato in it. Hands down. Believe it or not Market Basket, the one they make, awesome. It’s hard to get because everyone buys it. But that’s my favorite.

Victoria: Thank you so much for sitting down with us!

Hart: No, thank you!



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About the Contributor
Victoria Macao
Victoria Macao, Reporter
Victoria Mação  (she/her) has high expectations for her long-awaited senior year and amazing plans for the brilliant future ahead of her. Mação  is an athlete (track runner/soccer player), a history lover, a straight “A” student with the longest list of possible colleges to attend that you will ever see, and is a complete dreamer girl. One good way to briefly describe Mação  is by mentioning her cool outfits, great hair, and absolute passion for aesthetic video making. With this being Mação's first year as a reporter for The Crimson Times, she is really looking forward to brainstorming and writing amazing stories for our school newspaper.

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