In two months, Almi Abeyta will fully take over the reins of the Chelsea Public Schools from retiring Supt. Mary Bourque.
But Abeyta has been doing anything but laying low since coming to Chelsea in the fall. Monday night, she held the final of four community conversations at the Clark Avenue Middle School.
A cross section of parents, students, and school staff listened to Abeyta talk about her background and educational goals for Chelsea, and broke off into working groups to discuss the pros and cons of the school system.
“I’m asking for the strengths and what the Chelsea Public Schools need to work on and invest in,” said Abeyta.
Abeyta, who came to Chelsea after working at Somerville High School and in East Boston elementary schools, said the community conversations will help inform strategic planning and budgeting for the schools.
Abeyta, who comes from a long line of educators, including a grandfather who met her grandmother while working at a one-room schoolhouse in Colorado, said she has been impressed by the energy and enthusiasm of the Chelsea community.
At one table during the breakout sessions Monday night, several Chelsea High students discussed their perceptions of the public schools. Some of the usual suspects were listed as challenges, including less than thrilling school lunches, as well as staff turnover.
But even more strengths of the schools were listed, including district diversity, the REACH program, and the school libraries.
“This has been a great opportunity to learn about what the community values, and there has been a good turnout at the forums,” said Abeyta.
As part of the transition plan put in place when Abeyta was hired this summer, she will be shadowing Bourque through Dec. 1. On Dec. 1, Bourque will take a step back and Abeyta will begin making school district decisions.
Bourque’s last day is Dec. 31, and Jan. 1, 2020 will be Abeyta’s first official day as superintendent.