Paul Toner has come about the superintendent pipeline through a route less traveled.
Toner is one of the four candidates for the Everett Public Schools superintendent position and the North Cambridge resident, who also came from Somerville, interviewed last Thursday, Dec. 5, with community members, students, the School Committee and teachers.
Toner is currently a senior director at the Teach Plus organization, but is also a former teacher, a lawyer, a member of the state Board of Higher Education and a two-time Council candidate in Cambridge. He is also a former two-term leader of the Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA), which does represent Everett teachers.
Growing up in Cambridge and Somerville, and starting his teaching career in Cambridge, Toner said he chose to apply in Everett because it reminds him of the community he grew up in.
“I want to be the superintendent in Everett because Everett is like the community I grew up in at Somerville and Cambridge, long before the real estate boom areas they have become,” he said. “I see in Everett that we can go further and further. I believe there has been some pent up desire to have more opportunities to express ideas and I want to capitalize on that energy.”
Toner said he grew up in a working-class household in Cambridge and Somerville, and came from a family that bore many police officers, firefighters, teachers and public servants. He went into teaching on a suggestion from a teacher he knew, but he was also interested in going to law school. After some contemplation, he said he decided to give back and went on to become a teacher in Cambridge.
While teaching middle school social studies, he went to law school at nights. However, even after completing law school, Toner decided to continue teaching.
“I stayed in teaching, but ended up having an opportunity to use my law degree later in life as I got into the teacher’s union,” he said.
Toner spent five years as the Cambridge Teacher’s Union president in a time when enrollment began to swell in the district. His work there translated into two-terms as the leader of the state MTA. That stint ended in 2014.
Toner was supportive of the academies that Everett has started this year, but said maybe it might be a good idea to explore sharing resources with the Five District Partnership.
“I don’t want to change programs, I want to expand them and build on their vision,” he said. “I want to be here for the long haul. I don’t have any plan of being here and running off somewhere else in three or four years. I want to build a plan with you and a plan where the vision will stick around if I were to walk outside and be hit by a bus and not be here anymore.”
Most of all, he said he would be present if he were chosen, and would become part of the community.
“This is a close-knit community and an outside person can create anxiety for the staff, administration and community,” he said. “I know you have a strong tradition for football, sports, the arts and band. I understand the pride of being born and raised in Everett. I have the same pride in being from Cambridge or Somerville. I wasn’t born in Everett and can’t change that, but if I were the successful candidate I’d be living in Everett 24/7. I’ve been a 24/7 person for years. I will be here building relationships with staff, students and parents. Even though I am not from Everett, I would be of Everett.”
The final candidate for superintendent was to be interviewed on Tuesday, Dec. 10, for the day.
on Dec. 14
The Everett School Committee will conduct official interviews of all four superintendent candidates this coming Saturday, Dec. 14, during the entire day.
The interviews will all occur in the Everett High School Library.
The interview schedule will be as follows:
•9 a.m. – Todd Stewart
•10:30 a.m. – Priya Tahiliani
•1 p.m. – Paul Toner
•2:30 p.m. – Thomas Flanagan
Everett Public Libraries Events
Events at the Everett Public Libraries week of December 23rd
Parlin Memorial Library
Monday, December 23rd
Press Due: Monday, December 9th
Come to the Parlin Library on Monday morning to read books, sing songs, explore movements, and more! For toddlers and pre-k (and their grown-ups). No registration required.