As Charlestown High Headmaster William Thomas moved through the cafeteria Thursday, Sept. 10, visiting with students during the lunch hour and getting things in order for the first week of school, he got a puzzling call from the front office.
“The Superintendent is here,” was the message.
That’s right, the first visit to Charlestown High School (CHS) this school year came as a complete surprise to Thomas and the rest of the community last Thursday, but it was a welcome and productive visit.
Chang took over this year as the new superintendent of schools in Boston and has brought a lot of energy to the position already – having become quickly known as a leader who makes surprise visits and who is out in the district more than he is in the Central Office (now located in the new Bolling Building at Dudley Square, Roxbury).
In fact, over the summer Chang made himself quite at home in Charlestown, visiting the Harvard-Kent School two times – once even going sailing with the summer program. Most leaders in the Charlestown schools have described him as a visible presence at their schools and someone they figure to see frequently.
Thomas said he was excited to have the surprise visit and used it as a chance to highlight some great programs that the school is embarking upon – including strengthening the existing ties to the neighborhood.
“We were excited to have the new Superintendent, Dr. Tommy Chang, visit our school,” said Thomas. “Along with talking to the Superintendent about academic opportunities at CHS, we also talked about our work with the Charlestown neighborhood community. As Headmaster, I’ve had great support from the Friends of Charlestown High School, a dedicated group of Charlestown residents who meet monthly to discuss how our school and the surrounding neighborhood can better work together. As part of our work with the Friends of Charlestown High School, we’ve had CHS students and staff participate in a variety of Pride Week activities in June and we’ve hosted a community Art Show at our school, among other projects.”
Thomas said they are particularly excited this year about an academic program that partners with another great Charlestown institution – Bunker Hill Community College (BHCC).
That program allows a technology career pathway in partnership with BHCC for computer science and informational technology. Students will be able to take BHCC college classes as early as 9th grade.
“C-TownTech is a Career Pathway focused on computer science and informational technology,” said Thomas. “Through partnerships with Bunker Hill Community College, the Boston Private Industry Council, Jobs for the Future, and SAP, we have created a six-year trajectory, where students will earn an Associate’s Degree and can then either immediately enter the workforce, with a good-paying job in Information Technology, or go on to complete their Bachelor’s Degree. This Career Pathway connects our high school students to the 21st Century workplace and provides them with a unique array of coursework, internships, and professional opportunities. We hope that C-TownTech will serve as a benchmark for the new Career Pathways being considered across the district.
And while the surprise visit during the third day of school was unexpected, Thomas said they are always ready for a visit and always ready to show those from outside the school how much they care about the 975 students that travel to Charlestown every day from all over the city to attend high school.
“We foster a safe, supportive learning environment that welcomes all students,” he said. “Students with disabilities, students who are English language learners, and students who are ready for AP and college-level coursework are all a part of our school. We are proud to serve them and proud to be a part of the Charlestown community.”