It was also the first day for Interim Superintendent/Principal Bella Wong to interact with the students since taking over for Scott Carpenter on July 1.
Sudbury Patch sat down with Wong to discuss her experiences so far, and her goals for the school for 2013-14.
Patch: Do you feel you're starting your new position differently than others because it’s only a one-year deal?
Bella Wong: I come with in with the same amount of enthusiasm as I would for any assignment. But I am mindful that anything I start this year, I have to try and make sure I finish it this year. It does preclude the ability to make multi-year plans because it wouldn’t be appropriate to start one knowing someone else will be picking it up in the later years. So it’s really about the goals we set out are things that can be easily built upon or are completed this year.
P: What goals have you put forth for this year?
BW: There have been a lot of transitions. A lot of transitions of leadership … myself, the business administrator, director of student services and even our curriculum positions. The big positions have shifted. We’ve added a fourth full house when it’s been 3 ½ houses last year and 3 houses the year before that. This year it’s really about re-acclimating ourselves to one another and building our lines of communication, strengthening that within the building, but also between our school and the community. So I think that’s one goal and something that can be built upon for years after. I’d also like to look at what we’re doing for programs and do some assessments in terms of whether we can be more efficient. That can also lay the groundwork for future long-term planning around budgets and program development. So that’s something I think we can finish this year which will create a base for the future group to look at.
P: What’s the biggest difference being a superintendent for Wellesley Public Schools and Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School?
BW: I think the superintendent aspects are very much the same. All the things about looking at budgets, communicating with the community, working with the school committee, and oversight of operations is very much the same. It’s just that it’s one school. I’m missing pre-k through 8 so it’s a lot easier in that sense because I can focus on one building. Before there were 10 buildings so I would be traveling a lot. The biggest difference for this position is that it is principal as well. This school is large with 1,650 kids, so the principal part is very full-time, to make sure I’m present for the students, the teachers and being involved in the activities going on the building and outside the building after hours.
P: How was your summer leading up to the first day of school?
BW: It was really good. I got to start early because my predecessor, Scott Carpenter, was really generous with allowing me access to the space. Although I officially started July 1, I was able to do about six entry interviews in the month of June. I met with administrators, school committee, parent leadership groups, student leadership groups, and with faculty and staff who wanted to meet with me. In the summer I shifted over to town representatives. It’s been really helpful in getting acclimated to the culture of the communities, but also to get a sense of what people’s concerns are be able to set some priorities for the year. It’s been absolutely great. People have been so generous with their time and it’s really helped me start the school year with a pretty good sense of what we can do this year. It was quiet in a big, empty building so it’s nice to have the kids back.
P: How does it feel coming back to Lincoln-Sudbury after being a teacher here 15 years ago?
BW: I was here from 1991 to 1998, and I only have fond memories from when I was here. It was where I started my teaching career. I think it’s great to be back and be part of the community. But I see it with fresh eyes. It can’t be and it isn’t the same as when I left it. I think a lot of the positive qualities – caring, cooperative relationships – are still here. It’s very much in tune to what’s going on in the world. It’s a very different building from when I was here last. It’s a beautiful, bright building. So I think it helps me adjust in that it’s a different place. But it’s great to be with people I used to work with, but also with people who’ve become part of the community since I was here. It’s been a great pleasure to meet them. The kids … I was really impressed in the first assemblies. They were terrific, very respectful.
P: Is there any chance you’ll reapply when the school year is over?
BW: No. It was a condition of the position. Anyone who accepted the interim position would not be part of the permanent pool. I knew that coming in to it and accepted it for what it was. I really wanted the opportunity to be here. The school committee wants to have the best pool possible and just making it completely open.