One Journey Ends…Another Journey Begins

Good Morning, Reading Public School Staff and Community,

Today is my last day as Superintendent of the Reading Public Schools and most likely my last correspondence to you.  This 34 year journey has been an amazing experience and I do not regret one minute of my time here in Reading.  As Superintendent, I entered when the H1N1 virus was emerging and I am leaving 12 years later when the COVID-19 is hopefully subsiding.  During my time our district has had to endure the challenges that impacted children, both locally and nationally, including an economic crisis of 2009, MCAS and PARCC debates, new curriculum frameworks, two override elections, school security, social emotional learning, the need for classroom space, full day kindergarten, social justice issues, and the pandemic.  I hope during these 12 years that the Committee and this community has looked to me for guidance, leadership, and trust. 

There are many individuals and groups that I would like to thank during my 38 year career in the Reading Community and the Reading Public Schools.  First, and foremost, I want to thank my family; my wife Laurie, my daughters Erin and Shealagh, and my mom, Josephine.  They have been there and supported me and allowed me to do the things I needed to do to be an effective Superintendent and educator.  I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge where I began my teaching and coaching career and that was at Austin Preparatory School.  I was fresh out of ULowell and I want to thank John McCarthy, David Boschetto, and Tom Enright for welcoming me and mentoring me at Austin Prep.  Ironically, we “stole” John McCarthy several years later from Austin Prep and he finished his career at Coolidge where he became a favorite science teacher of hundreds of students.

My journey began in the Reading Public Schools began in 1987 when I was hired as a 7/8 science teacher by Jack Fasciano, Lou Adreani, and Al Lahood.  During my early years, I was mentored by many including Dick Chapman, Janet Quinn, Marie Tomasello, Walter Fitzgerald, Anne Arington, Mary Ellen Begonis, and Nancy Kerrigan.  These and others were amazing people who supported me to be the best science teacher that I could be.

During my time in Reading, many people took a chance on me for the next step in my career.  Al Lahood and Lou Adreani took a chance on me at Coolidge and then advocated to keep me during the numerous layoffs Reading was experiencing in the late 80’s.  Acting Superintendent Dennis Richards took a chance on me at 32 years old to become the Principal of Coolidge Middle School.  Superintendent Pat Schettini took a chance on me to become the Assistant Superintendent of the Reading Public Schools, and the 2009-10 School Committee under Chairman Robinson  took a chance on me to replace Pat Schettini when he became ill as Superintendent of Schools.  I will never forget those who gave me those opportunities and believed in me.  I have tried to never let any of you down.  And I have always taken a chance on teachers, Principals, and Central Office Administrators and they have never let me down.

I am proud of the work we have done in Reading. I am especially proud of the programs and initiatives that I brought to the district to excite and engage students. As a teacher and science department chair, this includes Nature’s Classroom, Project Adventure, Science Olympiad, hands on science learning, and Science Olympiad Day to the Reading Public Schools.  As a Principal, I worked with others to completely revise the middle school model, add middle school foreign language for all students, introduced the Blue Ribbon School Improvement Process, and increased the number of algebra sections from one in each middle school to four.  During my Principalship, Coolidge became a National Award Winning School of Distinction for Teamwork and Governor Mitt Romney came to Coolidge as part of the award presentation.  I supervised the Coolidge Middle School building project from 1998-2001.  The total cost of that project in 2001 was 9 million dollars.  Boy, have times changed.

As Assistant Superintendent, I worked with others to bring in curriculum maps, Arts Fest, Five Star Theatre Camp, AP Academies, Summer School, Robotics, Engineering and Design Courses, Teaching of American History Grant, Computer Science Courses, and a district wide teacher induction program.  I taught a graduate level course called Expanding the Boundaries of Teaching and Learning to over 200 Reading Teachers on how to integrate technology seamlessly into their instructional practices.  Many teachers have commented to me over the years that it is the most impactful professional development that they ever had.

And as Superintendent, I am proud of the work that I have done with others to strengthen town and school relationships, technology infrastructure, social and emotional learning, the Safe and Supportive Schools Grant, Youth Mental Health First Aid Grant, chemical health, school and building security, identifying additional space for schools through modular classrooms, increasing full day kindergarten and preschool, establishing a strong relationship with the Reading Police and Fire Departments,  School Resource Officers, the Coalition, and addressing hateful graffiti in our schools.  We have improved our special education programs and have strengthened and will continue to strengthen our special education literacy practices.

From a financial perspective, I am proud of the fact that our budgets have always been realistic, practical, and sustainable.  We have always managed our budgets well.  The work that YES for Reading, Bob LeLacheur, Gail Dowd, and others did is the most significant financial achievement over the last 18 years in the Town of Reading.  I am proud of the work that we have been able to do with our facilities in building 9 modular classrooms, added roofs, windows, and boilers, and improved the Turf II field.  Turf I and the Track will be done a year from now.  Hopefully, Killam will not be too far behind.

I am proud of the contributions that I have made at the state level serving as Co-Chair of the Safe and Supportive Schools Commission, Chair of the MASS Professional Development Committee, Committees at DESE on Educator Evaluation, Assessment, and Curriculum.  I have served on National Committees with Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and his team on State Curriculum Standards, and PBIS.

I am proud of all of the students that I taught that have become successful in their careers.  Some are now parents in the Reading Public Schools and it is so fulfilling to see their children attend the same schools that they attended.  They are making real contributions to society.  I am also proud of all of the administrators that have been under my tenure that have advanced their own careers.  Since I have been Superintendent, two administrators have become Superintendents, two have become Executive Directors in Special Education Collaboratives, and five have become Assistant Superintendents.  And recently, one became a principal in another school district.

My final comments is to say thank you to our current Administrative Team of Principals, Central Office Administrators and Directors.  I am proud to say that I have hired all of them and have worked with many of them for the last five years and this group is the most talented, dedicated, and hard working group that I have ever worked with.  I want to especially thank Gail Dowd and Jennifer Stys who have gone well beyond their job descriptions this year and have done everything possible to keep this district afloat during a very difficult year.

As I close out my remarks, I have always given it all and left nothing on the table.  Did I make mistakes?  Absolutely, every single day on my career.  But, I can leave today on June 30th with my head held high knowing that I always, always tried to do what was best for the children and staff of the Reading Public Schools.  It is my hope that I have left the school district in a very good place, as I pass the torch to Superintendent Milaschewski.

Thank you.

John Doherty

Superintendent

Reading Public Schools

82 Oakland Road

Reading, Massachusetts 01867

781-944-5800

John.doherty@reading.k12.ma.us

9/11 Writing Contest for All Students in Grades K-12

Good Morning, Reading Public School Staff and Community,

Reading Rotary, the Fall Street Faire Committee, and the Reading PorchFest Committee are co-sponsoring a writing contest for all Reading students in Grades K-12 to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of September 11th.

Students can submit a poem or essay on the theme “Light in the Darkness.” A judging panel will determine a winning essay or poem from the elementary, middle, and high school levels. The winning students will each win $100 and the opportunity to present their writing at the town-wide commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Writing submissions are due August 1. Details can be found at http://www.fallstreetfaire.com/events-and-activities/9-11-20th-anniversary-writing-contest/.

If you have any questions, contact memorialwritingcontest@gmail.com.

John Doherty

Superintendent

Reading Public Schools

82 Oakland Road

Reading, Massachusetts 01867

781-944-5800

John.doherty@reading.k12.ma.us

Summer Food Distribution Today from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Good Morning, Reading Public School Families,

This is a reminder that our Summer Food Distribution Program will be moved to every Tuesday, starting today, from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at under the bridge at Reading Memorial High School, near the Hawkes Field House.  Familes will receive 7 days of breakfast and lunch per child.  All children 0-22 years of age are eligible.  For further information, please contact Director of School Nutrition Danielle Collins at Danielle.Collins@reading.k12.ma.us

John F. Doherty

Superintendent of Schools

School Committee Meeting This Evening

Good Morning, 

There will be a meeting of the Reading School Committee this evening on Microsoft Teams.  Executive Session is at 6:00 p.m. and General Session is scheduled to begin at 7:00 p.m.  To participate in the meeting, you will need to use the live chat feature on the Teams link below.

Thanks and have a great day!

John Doherty, Superintendent of Schools

Join Us in Thanking Dr. John Doherty

The Reading Public Schools will be holding an open house for Dr. John Doherty on Tuesday, June 22, from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. in the Coolidge Middle School Library Media Center. Community members and staff are invited to come and say goodbye and thank you to Dr. Doherty for his 34 years of service to the Reading Public Schools.

METCO Director Announcement

Good Afternoon,

I am pleased to announce that Kurtis Martin has been appointed as the next METCO Director for the Reading Public Schools.  Kurtis is currently a Dean of Students for Brighton High School.  I have attached his resume for your viewing.

We will be having a virtual meet and greet for all Reading Public School families on Monday, June 21st at 4:30 p.m. on Zoom.  The link is below.

https://readingpsma.zoom.us/j/88594012798

Please join me in welcoming Kurtis to the Reading Public Schools!

John Doherty

Superintendent

Reading Public Schools

82 Oakland Road

Reading, Massachusetts 01867

781-944-5800

John.doherty@reading.k12.ma.us

School Committee Meeting Tonight

Good Afternoon, Reading Public School Community,

There will be a meeting of the Reading School Committee this evening on Teams.  The School Committee will be in Executive Session at 6:00 p.m. and the General Meeting will begin at 7:00 p.m.  The link is below and the packet is attached.

https://teams.microsoft.com/l/meetup-join/19%3ameeting_YzQzNmQ1YjItMTM0OC00NWJiLWI2NTktOTNlMDc2NzgzMjYx%40thread.v2/0?context=%7b%22Tid%22%3a%226b81bca4-cd59-4341-a904-ea2ff758fe2a%22%2c%22Oid%22%3a%22efc9cea4-218b-4d80-93a8-6d535ef950e8%22%2c%22IsBroadcastMeeting%22%3atrue%7d

Reading Public Schools SEPAC and Reading Presentation Tomorrow Night

Dear Families,

Please join us on Tuesday 6/15/21 @ 7 pm for Part Two in our series of reading presentations along with SEAPC.  Renee Limauro, Shana Goldwyn and Auri Musselman will be tomorrow night’s presenters.  Please use the link below to access this presentation and not the link on the flyer. 

ZOOM Link:

https://readingpsma.zoom.us/j/87348284534

We look forward to seeing you tomorrow night!

Reading Public Schools Final Spring Update of 2020-2021 School Year

Good Morning,

I hope that you are doing well and enjoying another beautiful weekend.  Here is the final spring update of the school year!

  • First and foremost, Thank you to our staff!-The 2020-2021 school year will go down as one of the most unique and challenging school years in history.  However, at the end of the day, our staff including teachers, nurses, paraeducators, custodians, food service, secretaries, and administrators did everything that they could to keep our students safe and learning.  I don’t have enough words to express my gratitude and thanks for all of their efforts and support.  They did the best we could and at the end of the day, we can proudly say that our students did succeed this year, in spite of the challenges.  To that end, please take a moment over the next week to thank those staff that have worked with your children.

           As Reading Public School families, I also want to thank you for all of your efforts, flexibility, and patience this year.  This year was just as  challenging for you as it was for us and we appreciate your support and efforts.

  • Health Update:  This week, we had two positive cases. 1 positive case from pooled testing at Coolidge, no staff or students quarantined, and one positive case at Birch Meadow, no staff or students quarantined.
  • Vaccine Clinics this week-We are offering vaccine clinics this week for students ages 12 and up, either their first or second does.  All students, regardless if this is their first or second shot, must bring signed consent forms with them if the parent will not be present.  Students will be given their vaccination cards unless parent requests that the school nurse keeps the card for parent pickup.  The sign up calendars for each school are below:

Reading High School Wed 6/16, 8-12 p.m.

Coolidge Middle School Thursday 6/17, 8-12 p.m.

Parker Middle School Thursday 6/17, 1-4 p.m.

  • Special Olympics was a Success!-On Friday, the Reading Public Schools held its own version of the Reading Special Olympics.  Over 60 athletes from 5 schools participated in this event and it was a complete success.  A special thanks goes out to Coolidge Teacher Tara Herlihy for organizing the event and for RMHS Student Jacob Goldlust for providing the music entertainment and emcee duties.  We also appreciate the efforts of the Reading Police Department for providing the color guard for the opening ceremonies and all of the staff and parents, families, and friends who came out to support our athletes.
  • Last Day of School is Monday, June 21stThe last day of school for the Reading Public Schools will be on Monday, June 21st.  It will be an 11:00 a.m. dismissal for all students.
  • Thank you, Retirees-A special thank you goes out to all of the following retirees who will be leaving the Reading Public Schools at the end of this school year.  Thank you for your dedication and efforts to our district and the children of Reading over the last several years.

Teachers:

LoriAbelsonWood End
PamelaBostonBarrows
PhyllisGreeneJoshua Eaton
MarieKileyJoshua Eaton
JohnLaracyBarrows
DianeDavisParker
MarySageRISE
ConnieQuackenbushParker

Other:

Linda Engelson                          Central Office

Custodians:

Bob Deane                  Parker

Dan Leccese                   Barrows

Kenneth Hughes          Wood End

Café:

Cindy Goodwin                Joshua Eaton

Paras:

Liz Oehmen                 Wood End

Lisa Thomas                     RMHS

Janet Williams            Wood End

Secretaries:

Jerri Donahue                  Food Service

Superintendent of Schools John Doherty Graduation Speech for Class of 2021

RMHS Graduation Speech-2021

Members of the Reading School Committee, Principal Boynton, Faculty, Fellow Administrators, Distinguished Guests, Community Members, but most importantly, members of the Class of 2021 and their proud families and friends, both virtual and here in person, it is with great pride that I address and congratulate all of this year’s Reading seniors- those of you who met the graduation requirements here at the high school and those who attended schools out of our district.  As collective members of the Reading Public Schools, each of you have reached a vital milestone in your life.  You have earned our congratulations and recognition and now you are ready to make your own imprint on the world.

Your class story has been the book end story of the class of 2020.  Where the class of 2020 had the last four months of their school year remote with very few activities, you started the school year remote, moved through two phases of hybrid learning, and then to full in person with many activities and traditions celebrated.  You have endured attending Zoom classes, wearing face masks and learning how to speak and understand “mask language”.  Hand sanitizing, drinking bottled water, participating in pool testing, being quarantined, staying 6 feet apart from others, walking in one direction, driving yourself to games, virtual concerts and shows and finally, vaccines became the norm as the school year went on.  You have been resilient, persistent, and realized that some things are not worth getting upset about.  This journey has been extremely unusual, a learning experience, and certainly one you will always remember. 

  At the same time, we have endured this pandemic, we have seen firsthand a rise in tensions focused on social justice and racial bias across our country.  We have also witnessed our democracy getting challenged with an Insurrection at our Capital in January.  You as a class have been active in discussions and your participation in peaceful rallies and demonstrations shows that you want to be involved and that you want your voices to be heard.  When living in times of uncertainty and limited resources, tensions rise, like a simmering volcano ready to erupt.  These two competing crises are intertwined in many ways and as a class, you have an opportunity to rise above the crises and lead.  We are confident that you will do just this.  You are the future and your voices will matter.  We know that you are leaving Reading equipped with the knowledge and tools to be informed citizens to promote for change.

 So this brings us to why we are here today at a very positive milestone in your life…your high school graduation.  I am proud of each of you and the resiliency you have shown throughout this pandemic.  I was also moved by the way our teachers, administrators, nurses, food service, custodians, secretaries, paraeducators, and technology staff rallied around you to ensure each of you were able to get to this incredible milestone.  Our town officials, police, fire, and health were instrumental in keeping our town safe during these last 16 months. They are all the true unsung heroes.  Your parents and relatives, who were also dealing with the challenges of this pandemic, have played an instrumental role.  When you have a moment, please give them virtual hugs and thank you’s for making this a meaningful year in your lives.  In fact, let’s take this time to applaud them for being with you each step of the way.

Like every class, the Class of 2021 has some amazing stories to tell.  You may not even know all of the skills, talents, aspirations and dreams of your classmates. Over the next few minutes, I want to share with you some of those stories.  It is stories like these that continue to give me hope and inspiration that our future leaders are here on this field this evening.  I recognize that this is not an exhaustive list as each of you have unique skills and talents that will take you far.

Jessica Noonan, Ashley Pacelli and Danielle Percy have completed their senior year of high school by taking Dual Enrollment courses at Middlesex Community College.  They excelled taking classes in such varied disciplines as Psychology, Marine Biology and Renewable Energy Resources.

This past September, William Merry connected with the Curtis Guild Elementary School in East Boston when he learned that they were experiencing a shortage of adequate student desks.  Will, along with some help from his Dad, built and delivered 26 school desks for students to use during remote learning.

Gerald Cutone is a player for the US Men’s National Field Hockey Team and scored the opening goal for the team in South Africa in February 2020.

Bryce Dahlgren will be taking his skills and talents and going on a two-year mission trip.   His destination is unknown at this point, but we wish him a safe journey.

Trevor Conroy will be headed to Georgia to train as a lineman.

Alex Faulkner chose to pursue his interest in a trade in automotive technology by enrolling in a full-time dual enrollment program at Ben Franklin Institute of technology for his entire senior year.  He earned enough credits to be a sophomore next year.  

Jessica Busick took classes at Beverly School for the Deaf to learn American Sign Language. She is classified as an “advanced” student and is currently completing an internship there and will continue on in the field.

Samantha Lyons worked as a Field Hospital Registered Nurse Assistant during the height of COVID in the spring. She would do her classes online during the day and then would drive into Boston to work the afternoon or overnight shift at the field hospital. She did this until the field hospital had their very last patient. She is going to school to major in pre-med.

Ellie Siu moved from Hong Kong to Reading just days before she started ninth grade. Ellie was quick to independently adapt & navigate a new educational system. She took initiatives to take more challenging classes and to double check that she understood the expectations of her teachers. Not only has she thrived in the sciences, but is also an extremely talented art student. Ellie will be pursuing a pre-medicine track at Northwestern University.

Four of your classmates are pursuing education with a goal of becoming a teacher.  Riley Murphy, Casey Waldman, Sam Gualtieri and Maddy Yurewicz will be pursuing education majors that focus on shaping the minds of future students.  Thank you for choosing this path.

Last, but certainly not least, I am also proud to say that we have five members of the Class of 2021 who will be making commitments to our armed forces.  Peter Iannuzzo will be joining the Air Force, Alexander Del Valle Ortiz will be enlisting in the Army, Brian Duarte and Kung Patel will be joining the Marines, and David Swanson will be in the ROTC at Ohio State University.    

To each of you, thank you for defending our country and doing such important work. We wish you a safe journey and Godspeed.

These students are only a few of the many examples of this graduating class who are the unsung heroes among us.  Each of you have amazing stories to tell and each of you will be pursuing your own paths whether it be higher education, the military, vocation, or joining the work force.  It reaffirms my belief that our future is in very good hands.

During my twelve years as Superintendent of the Reading Public Schools, I have used the power of the story during my graduation speeches to give each graduation class inspiration, guidance, advice, and hope for your own future.  I have one more story that I would like to share with you today, my final as a Superintendent of Schools, and that is my own story.  I tell you this story not for you to learn more about me, but to share with you what I have learned during my own journey and that an ordinary person like me was able to make a difference in the lives of many others.  My hope is that what I have learned I can share with you as you continue through your own journey.

I grew up right next door in North Reading.  My family was a typical blue-collar family where both of my parents had to work to support my younger brother and me.  My mother worked for the Town of North Reading for over 40 years in the Finance Department and my father worked for Raytheon as an Inspector.  They taught me the importance of dedication, loyalty and being true to yourself and others.  When I was growing up, my Italian immigrant grandparents took care of me a lot and taught me the importance of hard work and perseverance.  They owned a chicken farm and grew vegetables and I spent many years helping out in the fields and farm.  My grandfather was a painter and a carpenter, and my grandmother was an avid Red Sox fan who taught me to always have hope in that someday they would win a world championship.  In those days, the Red Sox always broke our hearts.

My dad was disabled for the last thirty years of his life and was not able to work, so we learned to do more with less.  Material goods were not important.  Working hard and getting a strong education were.  I had some amazing teachers in the North Reading Public Schools, very similar to those we have here in Reading.  I had role models in my coaches and teachers who I looked up to and learned from in many settings.  They cared about us as students and I felt that in the interactions and lessons that they taught.

I graduated from North Reading High School with high honors and decided that I wanted to go to college and major in premed.  I was the first in my family to attend college, and for those of you who are in the same situation or have heard your families speak of this, there is pride in knowing you have accomplished this task.  I was always interested in helping others and biology and physiology were my favorite subjects, so I applied to and was accepted to many colleges and universities.  Unfortunately, we were not able to afford the tuition, so I decided to stay local and attend the University of Lowell where I majored in Biological Sciences.  I loved my classes and labs, did very well, except for Organic Chemistry, which for me, was impossible.  During my Junior and Senior year at ULowell, I did laboratory work in Viral DNA and RNA research under a Virologist where I discovered a mutation of a virus that received some recognition in the medical world.  I did the first of the many presentations of my life at a Medical Conference in Boston on my findings.  It was my first major achievement.  I still remember it like yesterday.

During this time, I decided that I would rather spend my career in education than laboratory research. I was inspired over the years by my teachers and coaches and I felt teaching and working with the next generation of children was the career that I wanted to pursue.  I shifted gears, entered student teaching, and completed my Bachelor’s Degree.  It was at that point that I began my teaching career right down the street at Austin Preparatory School where I taught High School Biology and coached Varsity Soccer.  During my four years at Austin Prep, I learned the value of teamwork, coming to work every day, giving it your best, and gaining inspiration in the work of teaching students.  To remain an active member in the school community, I coached Soccer, Basketball, and Baseball where I became a mentor for several athletes.  I also continued my interest in the medical field by becoming an EMT and a firefighter in North Reading. 

After four years at Austin Prep, I felt that I needed to professionally grow as an educator.  As much as I loved the people, the culture, and the atmosphere at Austin Prep, I was getting stagnant and needed to pursue new opportunities.  I applied to Reading Public Schools where there was an opening for a High School Biology Teacher.  Ironically, I was called for an interview for a middle school science position at Coolidge.  At first, I thought, why would I want to teach middle school students?  However, the more I thought about it, I realized that this was the challenge that I was looking for. I took the risk, accepted the interview, and was appointed as a Grade 7/8 science teacher at Coolidge.  I have been in Reading ever since as a teacher, Assistant Principal, Principal, Assistant Superintendent, and Superintendent.  During that time, I also earned my Master’s Degree at the University of Lowell and my doctorate at Seton Hall University.  At the beginning of my journey in the Reading Public Schools, I married my wife Laurie, who I met at ULowell and our daughters Erin and Shealagh graduated from Reading Memorial High School in 2014 and 2016, respectively.  Both have pursued careers in education, and we could not be prouder of them.

I share this story not to just speak about me, but to let you know that a journey can start small, change directions, and grow into a calling if you work to find the right fit.  During my above journey as an educator, a colleague, a supervisor, a husband, a father, a son, a family member and a friend, I have always based my actions on some core principles.  I would like to share those core principles with you as you enter the next phase of your journey. 

 My first core principle is to pay it forward which means that instead of paying someone back for a good deed, you do a good deed for someone else. I have been blessed over the years to have family, friends and colleagues pay it forward for me.  I have always believed in paying it forward for others through community service, in my role as a leader, or just doing a random act of kindness.  When you pay it forward, you’re usually changing someone else’s circumstances for the better. Sometimes, you’re saving another person’s life without even realizing it.

Another core principle of mine is the Zulu philosophy of Ubuntu which means, “I am because you are…my humanity is tied to yours”. A concept that is powerfully demonstrated by the relationship between educators and their students.   I have always believed that I am a better person by the people that I work with.  I learn a lot from them, and I hope that they learn a lot from me.  As a teacher and a leader, I always put the needs of students as a top priority and I have practiced that throughout my entire career.  You can always accomplish more as a team instead of a group of individuals.  Putting your own personal needs above everyone else just leads to divisiveness and dysfunction.

My next core principle is to take care of yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  Living a healthy lifestyle is going to be the single most important thing you can do.  When I turned 50, I began to take up yoga and running and it is one of the best things that I did for myself.  Since then, I have run in several races, including 5 marathons.  Yoga allows me to provide time to clear my mind of all of the distractions of a busy day.  Nourishing mind, body, and spirit matters.

My final advice to you is to be flexible in your thinking, seek to learn something new, and diversify your experiences.  When you stop learning, you stop growing as a person.  Treat every experience as a learning experience.  The learning experiences that I had at ULowell in the Virology Lab helped shaped my thinking throughout this year during the pandemic on how to address learning, health, and safety in our school district. Can you imagine what would have happened if we were not flexible during this pandemic?  Many of you are taking advantage of this next step by continuing your education, taking a gap year to learn new experiences, joining the workforce, learning a trade or enlisting in the military to serve our country.  As we have seen during this past year, the problems are going to get more and more complex and we will need people like you to be creative and improvise new solutions to these complex issues.

            Finally, I want to thank the class of 2021 for sharing this journey with me over the last 13 years.  When you were in kindergarten, I took over for Superintendent Patrick Schettini who became ill and was not able to return.  Like you, I was excited, but uncertain about what my journey was going to look like and where it was going to take me.  I have been your Superintendent ever since and I hope that your journey in the Reading Public Schools has been a worthwhile learning experience that will prepare you for your next path in life.  It is ironic that we are both getting asked the question, “So what are you going to do next?”.  My response is, “I am living the dream.”  I hope you are too.

To that end, my final wishes for you, the class of 2021 are as follows:

  • I wish each of you all of the success that you think you need.
  • I wish you the tenacity, the courage, and the good fortune to someday find life’s work about what you feel passionate about rather than settling for one that neither challenges, nor fulfills you.
  • I wish you a sense of satisfaction and self-worth that comes from using some of your talents and some of your energy to help others who are in need.
  • I wish you the wisdom to not forgo the love of family and friends in some relentless pursuit of material success.
  • I wish you the perspective to forgive yourself and learn from the mistakes which are inevitable.
  • I wish you to have the strength to never give up, because by not giving up, you will always have a chance to accomplish whatever you want to do in life.
  • Finally, and probably the most difficult, I wish that you not become so preoccupied with achieving some cherished goal on some far away day in some far away land that somehow you fail to appreciate each and every day of your life.

Class of 2021, you have a bright future in this new and challenging world.  Embrace the opportunities.  We look forward to seeing where your adventures will take you, and how each of you will make a difference. We are very proud of you and we will be rooting for you as you navigate your own journeys.  On behalf of your parents, family, educators, and the entire Reading Community, I congratulate you on your graduation.  I wish you good fortune, happiness, and much success on your journey ahead!