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Joel Boyd Named New Lowell School Superintendent

May 19, 2019

LOWELL — Joel D. Boyd was chosen as the new Superintendent of Schools for the city of Lowell.

After an hours-long special meeting Saturday, during which School Committee members held back-to-back interviews with Boyd and the other two finalists, Sergio Paez and Stacy Scott, members unanimously decided on Boyd.

Boyd, of Cambridge, is currently an academic superintendent at Boston Public Schools tasked with closing “opportunity gaps” through executive coaching and coordinating of support through the district’s central office, according to the district’s website. He started the position in 2017.

The three candidates were named finalists earlier this month from a pool of 23 candidates by the Superintendent Blue Ribbon Committee. All three have previously served as superintendents.

“I think having gone through the Blue Ribbon Commission process, as well as this interview process, I really think Dr. Boyd had a real understanding of where our district is at and some inspiring ideas of how we can move forward,” said School Committee member and Blue Ribbon panel chair Connie Martin, moments after Saturday’s vote.

“I’m really encouraged that the entire committee is moving forward with a unified voice,” she added. “I really think Dr. Boyd will be the next great education superintendent for the city of Lowell.”

Boyd’s career has taken him across the country, including as superintendent of Santa Fe Public Schools from 2012 to 2016. He has also worked in the following districts: School District of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania, Miami-Dade County Public Schools in Miami, Lehigh Valley Academy in Pennsylvania and Smyrna School District in Delaware. Boyd’s roles included science teacher, principal and assistant superintendent.

Paez, of Leominster, is currently the director of equity, empowerment, and excellence for English learners at Central Falls School District in Central Falls, RI. Scott, of Carlisle, currently works at both Harvard University and Boston University, though is perhaps best known in the Greater Lowell region as the former superintendent of Dracut Public Schools.

The superintendent candidate interviews were broadcast live by Lowell TeleMedia Center on Channel 99. Many of the questions School Committee members posed differed for each candidate. Below are snippets from a few questions.

On steps to show teachers they’re a leader, and what teachers would say about them after their first year as superintendent in Lowell.

* Scott summed it up in three words: “appreciation, motivation, and clarification.” He said he likes to spend his days first in the schools and then in his office, and said his motivation is managed by communicating with teachers frequently.

* Boyd said he identifies as a teacher first. “I believe teaching and learning are at the core of our work,” he said, adding that he hopes teachers would say he supports them. He said he would have teachers’ backs.

* Paez said the core of the district’s work are teachers. As superintendent, he said, his job is to create conditions for teachers so they can do their job well.

On the confidence to lead Lowell Public Schools and move it into a better, more stable position:

* Scott said he is a highly-experienced leader who is familiar with the challenges facing Lowell Public Schools. Closing performance gaps, he noted, is a major part of his experience.

* Boyd said students have to come first in every decision. He said he comes to the School Committee with experience, humility of someone who has struggled, and the confidence of someone who has been built up over time by a great mother.

* Paez said he’s confident he has the skills because he has devoted his life to urban education and providing solutions to challenges. “I love what I do,” he said. “I spend a lot of time in the schools and around the community.”

On their impression of Lowell Public Schools after meeting those who make up the district:

* Scott said he felt, from teachers, a strong sense that they want coaching, encouragement, and clarity. His favorite part of the visits was talking to students. His primary role, Scott said, is “chief marketeer” for the district and stressed a desire to make sure students feel a connection to Lowell Public Schools.

* Boyd said he appreciated the hard work and commitment of everyone he met. He said everyone, without fail, talked about the great team that’s here.

* Paez said he had a great opportunity to talk to district employees and hear their concerns. He asked those he met how he can help them. “Every school, every culture is unique,” he said. “I feel that it’s important that the superintendent understands the culture.”

Elizabeth Dobbins and Aaron Curtis contributed to this report. Amaris Castillo on Twitter: @AmarisCastillo.

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