UPDATED, June 25: The work of outgoing Superintendent Kathleen Bodie won praise at the Thursday, June 10, School Committee meeting, possibly Bodie’s last public appearance before her retirement officially begins June 30. She will be succeeded July 1 by Elizabeth C. Homan, currently assistant superintendent in Waltham, whom the committee hired last November.
Immediate past committee Chair Jane Morgan made the motion, seconded by current Chair Bill Hayner and passed, 7-0, to have a dedication plaque to Bodie installed in the under-construction new Arlington High School.
That “long-awaited and much-needed” project during “the most challenging and unusual year,” in the words of member Liz Exton, was one of many accomplishments the members attributed to Bodie.
Committee members' comments
“Thank you for everything you have done for us,” Hayner said, noting that the person leading Arlington Public Schools must make tough and sometimes swift decisions that may prove unpopular with parents and others. “Students and teachers come first every time [with Bodie].”
Len Kardon praised Bodie’s “tireless service over 13 years.”
Morgan noted: “You chose to stay here and to stay in this community” and that her “compass points toward doing what’s right for students.” Morgan also views Bodie as a role model for local girls and women, especially given that only about 27 percent of all public-school superintendents are female.
Morgan did not refer to it, but Bodie had been a candidate in Swampscott in March 2010. She withdrew when the School Committee declined to choose three candidates for the full-time position, and Bodie rose from interim to full time.
Paul Schlichtman said that Bodie is “respected by superintendents across the Commonwealth.”
Jeff Thielman described her as “a true servant leader if there ever was one.”
Curriculum renovation, enrollment growth, the establishment of Gibbs School for sixth grade and the rebuilding of Thompson Elementary School were also brought up briefly.
Kirsi Allison-Ampe wrote: "Others have mentioned so many of her accomplishments, and I will not repeat them here. But I would like to call out how, while Dr. Bodie dealt with these issues and so many more, I have been so impressed by her amazing work ethic, her grace under pressure, and her dedication to our students and staff. She is one of the hardest working and most caring people in our district."
The committee itself is giving a more personal gift to Bodie – a wooden rocking chair with her name and dates of service engraved on it.
“I appreciate all that you have mentioned,” Bodie said in response. “It’s all about the people and the relationships. I trust that will continue to happen. And I will look back always with much fondness in my heart.”
Campuses now have more librarians, books
The district’s three certified librarians gave a slide-show presentation about improvements to the districtwide library system. This includes adding thousands of books at each campus, many with enhanced representation of historically marginalized identities.
In addition, there is ongoing “strategic curation,” culling other items that are physically worn, contain inaccurate information or have “oppressive narratives” and “hurtful stereotypes.” Assets now include databases, research tools, ebooks, audiobooks and streaming video. And work continues to teach students to become critical thinkers when consuming all forms of media.
Two full-time-equivalent (FTE) positions for certified librarians were added to Arlington Public Schools in the past two years, according to Assistant Superintendent Roderick MacNeal Jr. And there is one FTE for a librarian paraprofessional at all campuses except Menotomy Preschool, he said.
The eventual goal is to have a certified librarian at each elementary school campus, Morgan noted. “We’re not where we want to be,” she said.
“Books are the greatest thing in the world,” said Hayner, whose daughter is a school librarian in Lexington.
In other business:
- The committee unanimously passed a resolution commending all district employees on how well they have coped with the past 15 months of the pandemic. Kardon, who made the motion, called it an “unprecedented crisis," and he expressed the committee’s “deep appreciation and gratitude.”
- The committee voted to approve a second reading of the revised district goals as presented, with the understanding that this document is subject to review by Homan. See the agenda document >>
- Bodie congratulated the senior class, which had a nearly normative, in-person commencement ceremony despite last week’s unseasonably high heat.
- The 2021-22 calendar had no discussion. See the agenda document >>
- The district has improved the student handbook and code of conduct procedures, MacNeal said. Information has been updated as to academic progress and appeals processes for suspended students, and with regard to physical-restraint protocols. This information is available in four languages other than English: Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese and Spanish.
- History teacher Jason Levy of Ottoson Middle School is to receive the 2021 Bryan McSheffrey Award for National History Day Massachusetts, sponsored by Massachusetts Historical Society, on June 19. It is awarded annually to one junior and one senior division National History Day educator.
- The committee adjourned at 8:20 p.m. to executive session to discuss a contract with bus drivers. Hayner said after the meeting that the document awaits ratification by the union.
See the ACMi video of the June 10 meeting:
This news summary by YourArlington freelancer Judith Pfeffer was published Saturday, June 12, 2021. It was updated June 12, to add a quote, and June 25, to add ACMi video window.
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