Acton-Boxborough Regional School District Superintendent Peter Light was appointed to his new position in late March, 2018 and started his position a few months later on July 2. And, as he tells it, he had a few days of quiet to get to know his new office.
"I think with the proximity to the 4th [of July] most everyone was on vacation," said Light. "And so I remember coming in and I had my little box with me. I brought my box in, sat down at the desk and the computer was there. I figured out how to log in, and then I think I was the only one in the office."
"So it took a couple days of quiet to kind of get the bearing," said Light.
The quiet didn't last, however. By July 5, Light said, people were back and the office fully staffed and "up and running." And so was Light.
A wonderful year
"Overall, I've had a wonderful first year here," said Light. "I have found that the people are just fantastic. By that I mean the staff, the students, the families, and it's just been a real joy to come into a district that values education the way it does."
He admitted the role has its challenges and Acton Boxborough schools has had its share in the last year.
In the last school year, Light helped shepherd a major school building project, dealt with threats against students, incidents of racist graffiit and antisemitic graffiti, and managed a bus driver shortage amidst a new district-wide school starting time schedule. He also helped put together an approximately $91 million school budget and worked with staff to identity needed capital improvements to school buildings.
The building project is a huge undertaking for us," said Light "And it just has such potential to positively impact thousands and thousands of students over their lives with the type of education that we can provide. That's certainly a major initiative of the district."
Diversity, equity, and inclusivity
He also discussed his excitement working in issues around diversity, equity and inclusivity. As part of this initiative, civil rights leaders and Holocaust survivors have visited the schools and spoken to students. He also talked about how the Anti-Defamation League would be bringing its World of Difference Institute program -- a program where peers are trained to lead groups of students in discussion sensitive topics such as race and bias to AB schools.
"I want to continue to push that work and bring it to the forefront of everything we do as a district," said Light.
Another goal, Light said, was to continue school district work on social/emotional learning, and developing student supports for students at every grade-level and at every school and how the district can prioritize building social/emotional learning opportunities for students into the school day.
The hope, Light said, is to create a an opportunity for community members and families who want to dive into a deep discussion about supporting the school's work around diversity, equity and inclusivity.
Light received a positive review from school committee members, who praised his leadership, his willingness to listen, his building of a positive culture, and his presence. They noted Light is often present for school events and non-school events. Committee members noted Light was present at Boxborough's Fifer's Day celebration on June 16, 2018 -- several weeks before he was expected to start.
School committee Chairwoman Diane Baum read Light's evaluation aloud during Thursday evening's school committee meeting. The evaluation stated Light "exceeded their expectations of a new Superintendent in many areas. He is extremely committed, intelligent and hardworking, and members were unanimous in their enthusiasm to continue the work of the district together."
Quick to praise staff
Still, Light was quick to give credit to the system's administrative staff, saying that successes attributed to him because they would not be possible without the help of school staff including principals, vice principals, assistant superintendents and others.
"I feel like I'm taking credit for the work of others," said Light, about receiving public praises and said it was a wonderful year for him, but it wouldn't have been possible without support from the district staff.
"I have to tell you," Light said, "the quality of the people in this district is just unsurpassed."