In her first public appearance as the leader of the City of Boston, Acting Mayor Kim Janey returned to the school she attended in Charlestown as an 11-year-old during the tumultuous busing era of the 1970s – a visit that prompted an unplanned discussion with students on school desegregation and the acting mayor’s experiences in Charlestown as a youth bused into the neighborhood from Roxbury/South End.
Edwards Principal Laryssa Doherty said she was contacted by Janey’s staff on Monday about wanting to make the Eddie’s her first visit, and they were more than happy to accommodate her.
“Acting Mayor Janey’s staff called and asked if she could stop by in the morning and kick-off her mayoral debut at the Edwards Middle School,” said Doherty. “Of course we were happy to have her and easily accommodated her schedule. She spent about one hour here and went to all the classrooms. She introduced herself to students and told her story and her history with the Edwards. In fact, a history class was studying school desegregation and she was very gracious to provide some input on her experiences in Boston in the 1970s and her time coming to the Edwards. It was very poignant and was a great opportunity for my students. They had some great questions.”
Janey’s family lived in Roxbury and the South End when she was a child, and during busing she was brought to Charlestown to attend the Edwards Middle.
Janey’s father, Cliff – known as CJ, died just over a year ago and was a very influential educator in Boston during the busing era. After earning his doctorate in education at Boston University, he taught at the innovative Bancroft School in the South End – which was an alternative public school open from 1969 to 1981. Later he went on to national prominence as the superintendent of schools in Rochester, NY, Washington, D.C., and Newark, NJ. He was a researcher at Boston University when he passed.
While he taught in the South End, Janey took a different path to the Edwards Middle School in Charlestown during those tough times. Recalling that history was part of her decision to come back to the school, said her office. Being the first African American and woman to lead the City, she felt it was the perfect way to start things off, they said.
“The Edwards was where Mayor Janey attended middle school during the era of busing and school desegregation, so today’s visit was very significant for her personally,” said spokesman Nick Martin. “Mayor Janey mentioned that one of the classes was actually doing a history lesson about that era (Tuesday). (It was) a historic day for the city, as we celebrate the first woman and the first Black Mayor of Boston, and Mayor Janey’s visit to the school was the perfect way to mark the occasion on her first day in office.”
Acting Mayor Janey was accompanied on her visit by Supt. Brenda Cassellius, Elementary Supt. Tommy Welch, and Charlestown School Committeeman Michael O’Neill. The Edwards is still scheduled to close at the end of this school term, with a celebration/good bye likely happening on June 17.