As the school district continues to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, School Committee Chairperson Kelly Garcia said there are many reasons to be optimistic about the future for Chelsea students and their families.
“Our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion work is continuing and we are excited to expand that work,” said Garcia.
Of special significance in the diversity work has been the increase in teachers and administrators of color in the Chelsea schools, said Garcia.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Almi Abeyta and her leadership team have worked hard to increase diversity in hiring, and Garcia said that work continues to be a success.
Several years ago, there were no administrators of color in the Chelsea public schools, Garcia said. Now, that number is up to 30 percent.
“It’s important for the students and the community to have that kind of positive representation,” said Garcia.
One program Garcia said is close to her heart are the Pathway programs that help Chelsea residents in particular become teachers and administrators in the schools. There are programs that help parents become paraprofessionals, paraprofessionals move on to become teachers, and teachers to move into administration. In addition, there is a pathway program for high school students who are interested in becoming paraprofessionals or teachers.
The programs provide a pipeline for parents and others who want to pursue a career in education, and Garcia said the feedback has been generally positive, with those taking part reporting that they feel listened to and supported.
“My favorite is the paraprofessional to teacher pathway, where people who have been paraprofessionals for years see a way to become a special education or other teacher,” said Garcia. By advancing in their careers and becoming a teacher, Garcia said many of those former paraprofessionals can double their pay and stay in Chelsea.
Another fairly recent initiative, the parent liaisons, continue to be a phenomenal asset in the schools by reaching out to the community and increasing opportunities for communication with parents and families, Garcia said.
One of the district’s most recent hires is a new college and career coordinator, a position Garcia said she has been advocating for during her eight years on the committee.
That position, as well as some special education and other administrative positions, will be housed at the school district’s newly renovated space at 77 Webster St.
Garcia said she looks forward to a continued successful school year on the committee, working alongside Abeyta and the administration, Vice Chair Ana Hernandez, and the entire committee.