After heading up a special project on school finance and organizational assessment at City Hall for the last two years, Omar Easy has made his way back to the School Department to help get the new Academy pathways program off and running at Everett High School (EHS).
Freshmen at EHS returned Tuesday to the school, but sophomores and upperclassmen return today, Aug. 28, for the new school term, and they’ll find some major changes in the way the school is being run with respect to the new Academies within the school.
Easy is the executive assistant principal for the Academies, and he said he will be reaching out to businesses in the community and using his connections at City Hall to bring hand-on experiences to the students that have chosen the Academy pathways.
“We need to get businesses in and around the city to partner with us for some internships and hand-on experiences for these students,” he said. “We need the community to engage with students. It’s a new transition the high school is going through this year right now. It’s an exciting time for the school system.”
And in terms of moving from Broadway to Elm Street, Easy said it has been a seamless transition – and having worked at the high school before, it isn’t a place that’s unfamiliar.
“The transition from City Hall to the School Department is going to work hand-in-hand with this new position in the sense that I am still connected to City Hall folks and the mayor, the department heads and (CFO) Eric Demas,” he said. “Any of the department heads dealing with vendors will be able to help us to recruit people to work with the Academies…It’s really a match made in heaven because I have the connections at City Hall to help with engaging businesses and the financial side.”
There are five academies that include:
•Freshman Experience (which is a taste of each of the four academies).
•STEM Academy (for science and engineering).
•Health and Public Service Academy
•Construction, Machining and Architectural Design Academy.
•Business Law and Hospitality Academy (the long-time Culinary Department will be folded into this academy as well).
Easy said they had the freshmen last year trying out the Academies, and now sophomores, they will be the first big class to use the pathways and Academies at the high school. In July, Easy said they sent out letters to the 524 sophomores letting them know what Academy they would be participating in this fall.
“This year is really the big year to get it going,” he said. “We’re off and running with the new classrooms that were built out over the summer. It’s really innovative and it’s given me a great grasp of the future of education and the future of Everett Public Schools…The sophomores this year are really the first cohort of the Academies model. They did their exploratory last year and now this year we’ve assigned them.”
Easy is also in charge of making sure the Academy model is funded, and he said while Interim Supt. Janice Gauthier has been very supportive, he has found it hard to win over others such as the assistant superintendent for business affairs.
Already, they have received a $218,000 grant from the One8 Foundation, and the state does offer more school funding for districts that employ the Academy model.
“It’s an exciting time for the City and the school system,” he said. “There is a bit of uncertainty with the new superintendent search, but hopefully we get this kicked off and make sure this is a long-term change for the schools.”