The January 27 tour of Malden’s Salemwood school included memorable and eye-opening insight into the fantastic work ethic and dedication of Malden’s education staff from superintendent Noriega to Principal Van to the non-stop teachers and assistant principals working diligently to educate our Salemwood children from across the city. I saw the advanced technology and teaching methods employed, to the hands-on dedication of the teaching staff. For example, the talented retiree, who doesn’t need the money, but enjoys being a super substitute in any capacity, that the school needs. To the amazing teachers, who sometimes come in on weekends to help cover extra activities, that the students need. Principal Van is an amazing hands-on principal, who knows every child in the building by name and knows all of their histories and situations in order to push towards positive outcomes. I’ve learned that a number of new initiatives have been implemented in the last six months, that have not yet made it into official reports, that seem to be yielding amazing and positive outcomes for the Salemwood children.
In the tour, at one point we were blindsided by a spontaneous question and answer session by a fourth-grade class. Maybe the students were genuinely interested or maybe they formed a spontaneous plan to hijack the class to get out of their daily lesson. But either way it was an amazing experience to stand there and get peppered by random questions by the room full of students. They asked anything. They wanted to know how old I was, how long I was a school committee member, what it was like in elected office, what was for school lunch the next day, how long principal Van was an “assistant” principal, how many schools superintendent Noriega started, etc etc. At one point the students were amazed to learn that when I was around their age, my parents enrolled me in the High School Studies Program (HSSP) at MIT. A young African American student in today’s Salemwood class had been told about the HSSP program by his parents. I relayed to the students, that after being enrolled for a time, that as a teenager, that I had started teaching light Saturday morning classes to other kids in the HSSP program at MIT. Everyone was fascinated. Extensive questions were asked about the camera surveillance systems in the school buildings. Not sure why that even came up, but the staff answered those questions. The questions, that myself, the superintendent and the principal fielded were eye opening for everyone involved. The students invited me to come back. If it can be arranged it would be my honor to stand in front of those students and randomly field any questions about any topic, that they can throw at me. It was lovely and inspiring to be put on the spot with no prep whatsoever. It was natural.
If it is possible to work out the logistics with the superintendent, I would be thrilled to come in on a Friday morning on future dates in the school year and let the students ask me anything about anything. Having our public school students engage and get to know us and us getting to know them is essential for building trust in the system over the long term.
The Salemwood Sharks stole the show today and it was amazing.
Ward 6 School Committee Member