Mass. Board of Education chairman visits academy

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

Paul Reville, the newly appointed chairman of the Massachusetts Board of Education, visited Prospect Hill Academy on Wednesday for a meeting with four PHA student ambassadors.

During his visit, Reville engaged in a dialogue with seniors Celina Lugo and Nayahra Resende, and juniors Andrew Manz-Siek and Marc Ramirez.

The students lauded teachers who know them well and are personally invested in their success, discussed learning from fellow students who come from a range of diverse backgrounds, and told Reville the benefits of being held to high standards and instilled with the desire and ambition to meet those standards.

Reville asked the students how they felt they were prepared for college, what advice they would give to district schools who might serve to learn from the successes of PHA, as well as what they would change about PHA and why some students may leave the school.

During a discussion with the charter school leaders, Reville was challenged to restate his position on charter schools as well as articulate his priorities. Reville said he was appreciative of the progress and success many charters have accomplished while remaining neutral about the necessity and growth of further charter schools.

Many of his remarks were based around the divisive nature of the “war” between charter and traditional public schools and his desire to refocus the public discourse on education around what practices best meet the needs of all students, how to close the various achievement gaps, and how to provide the most equitable services to every Massachusetts student, regardless of the type of public school they happen to attend.

When asked about what he considered the most effective strategy to improve public education, Reville denied any belief in a “silver bullet” solution but expressed his desire that all students should be able to share experiences like those he heard from the PHA students, in particular their account of being held accountable to high standards and working with teachers who instill a sense of hope and are truly invested in helping them to reach those standards.