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From the Executive Director – August 2016

As we head into the “dog days” of August, I want to share with you some reflections of this past year. I am struck by the significant impact our member educational collaboratives have made, both individually and collectively. Our voice is not only heard, but it is acknowledged and valued. Where is that impact most noticeable?

Member District Services

First and foremost, our daily working relationships with our member districts are incredibly strong. The programs and services you provide are highly respected and in demand from our member districts. Superintendents and other school leaders recognize and appreciate the value you add to their districts. They know that they can rely on your expertise to fill in the capacity gaps and service needs that they may experience.

➢ Leadership through Partnership

During the course of this past year, you have strengthened and expanded many of our long-standing partnerships. Our investment in, and commitment to, the social and emotional well being of all our students has resulted in the very thoughtful planning that has been done with MASC, MASS, MSSAA, MESPA and Teachers 21 to help create the SEL coalition (exSEL). We look forward to the launch of this initiative in September.

The contract that ESE has awarded us to promote inclusive practices is gathering much attention. In partnership with MSSAA and MESPA, our project has already resulted in our Inclusive Practice Ambassadors scheduling visits with 374 principals from more than 70 school districts across the Commonwealth. The target to visit with and share resources to 1,000 principals by October 31, while daunting, has focused our efforts and energies and yielded impressive results to date. Your assistance in getting us to that 1,000 principal number is critical to our success. So please reach out to the superintendents in your member districts who have not yet signed up and encourage the to do so. If you do not know which of your districts have not yet registered, please let me know and I will send you an updated listing.

We are fortunate to have a strong working relationship and partnership with AESA. For the past two years, Cathy Cummins has served on their Executive Council and assisted their strategic planning. I appreciate her efforts, as MOEC board president, to bolster the value of educational service agencies both nationally and statewide. We are in the midst of designing the agenda for our regional AESA meeting on May 5 and 6. Invitees will be representative partners from the Boards of Cooperative Education Services (BOCES) in New York, the Educational Collaboratives in Rhode Island and the Regional Educational Service Centers (RESC) in Connecticut. We are looking forward to a most informative and engaging conference with our colleagues from the northeast. I look forward to your participation.

➢ Advancement of Member Professional Development

We are excited that on August 3-5, we will hold the first three of six sessions of our Leadership Academy. More than 50 collaborative staff members have enrolled in this course, which designed to enhance and inform the leadership skills and expertise of the participants. Many are taking advantage of the three optional graduate credits. Plans are also underway for a new professional development opportunity focusing on the financial complexities of leading and managing an educational collaborative. I am confident that this offering will also be very enthusiastically subscribed.

➢ Legislative and Regulatory Initiatives

I remain hopeful that H.457 will be enacted before the legislative session ends in early next January. We have invested a lot of time and energy in imagining the next generation of educational collaboratives. Passage of the legislation will facilitate the implementation of that vision.

We are also hopeful that our conversations with staff at the Ethics Commission will yield positive results. The statute, as it currently exists, can inhibit our ability to take advantage of the skills and expertise of staff from our member districts. We know that the Commission staff understand and appreciate our dilemma and have included a resolution on the Commission’s “to do” list.

In closing, I wish you the very best as for the remaining days of summer as you ramp up for another successful school year. Keep up the great work you do to ensure that your member districts continue to receive high quality programs and services cost effectively through your economies of scale.

– Steve


From the Executive Director – June 2015

It does not seem possible that another school year is drawing to a close and that it has been twelve months since I last wrote to you. I am not sure where the time goes, but as I get older the speed and pace of the school year seems to accelerate. When we met as a group at the Annual Meeting in May, I was struck by the energy and passion which you brought to the task of advising us in the ways in which we can incorporate Tom Hehir’s recommendations, Commissioner Chester’s perceptions about the progress of the Commonwealth in the twenty years of education reform and the strategic goals of your statewide organization. The MOEC Board, at its June 15 meeting, will begin to synthesize those thoughts and suggestions into a priority action plan that will guide our future initiatives. On the board’s behalf, I want to thank you for sharing your perspective and wisdom with us.

My analysis of your thoughts from those charts reveal an interest in:

  • expanding your influence in providing professional development to member district staff to build capacity in regular education
  • lending your expertise to member districts to reduce over-identification of special needs students
  • better articulating our many programs and services both individually and regionally
  • promoting greater dialogue between the Department, ourselves and member districts
  • updating the design of our MOEC mentor program to more effectively support our new collaborative leaders.

These are worthwhile and ambitious goals for us to consider and adopt.

Last June, I reflected for you my recollection and understanding of the way we were, the way we are and the way we might become. Despite the “noise” that continues to engulf and distract us, that message still resonates with me. My work with you and our Board is to create, build and sustain the kind of statewide organization you wish it to be. You lead very busy and intense professional lives. My goal is to help you channel your energy and wisdom in ways that benefit you, your organization, and the greater educational community so that you receive the recognition and support you deserve.

I am hopeful and confident that in the year ahead the legislature will enact House 457. Our conversations with and support from Chair Peisch are most encouraging. The bill alone will not realize the vision and aspirations set forward in the “Next Generation” but it will lay the conceptual framework. We have journeyed a long way over these past eight years that I have had the privilege of working with you. The past and the present have been marked by outstanding successes and achievements. The future beckons and is ripe with opportunity and challenge. You have earned and deserve the respect that House 457 places in you. I look forward with great anticipation to its realization.

In the interim, enjoy some quiet time and relaxation over the summer months. You have earned and richly deserve this respite.

                                                                        Steve Theall