Secretary of Education Matthew Malone gets a lesson in Island ed

Secretary of Education Matthew Malone, right, stopped freshman Caio Proti to ask about his classes. — Photo by Janet Hefler

Massachusetts secretary of education Matthew Malone made a trip to Martha’s Vineyard Thursday, his 104th day on the job. On a warm sunny day, he met with school administrators and watched students and teachers in action at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School and West Tisbury School.

Secretary Malone took a sweeping, hour-plus tour of the high school led by Principal Stephen Nixon, and accompanied by a group that included superintendent of schools James Weiss, State Representative Tim Madden, school administrators, and teachers.

Along the way he stopped to banter with students and teachers in the hallways and classrooms. He visited vocational education specialty areas such as the greenhouse and automotive repair shop, offered impromptu remarks to seniors at the Council on Aging’s monthly luncheon in the culinary arts department’s dining room, and sampled some of the student chefs’ crème brulée and scalloped potatoes.

At the start of the tour, Mr. Malone stopped student Caio Proti to ask about a lacrosse jersey he wore, which provided an opening to ask about classes. “Engaging? Learning a lot?” the secretary asked. Caio answered “yes,” to both.

With a nod to Caio as he walked away, Mr. Malone told the school administrators nearby, “That’s where I get all the answers.”

Later in the tour, senior Job deForest told the secretary that he thought he lacks a voice as a student. He suggested high school seniors be given an opportunity to provide feedback about their schools through a state-wide exit survey. “That makes sense,” Secretary Malone told him.

The secretary said he has been visiting schools across the Commonwealth to learn more about the needs, concerns, and issues that are important to people living in the state, particularly by region.

“If we have things we could tighten, it’s just based on geography,” he said. “There are some coherence issues we’re trying to figure out. How can we make state training more accessible to folks that live on Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket? How can we provide resources in ways that perhaps aren’t being done at this time?”

“There are a lot of issues regarding technical assistance,” he added, “because we’ve been asking all the folks out in the field to do so much, but perhaps we haven’t provided them with the technical assistance to get it done.”

Secretary Malone started his visit Thursday morning by attending a school cabinet meeting at Edgartown School that included Mr. Weiss, administrators in his office, and school principals. After the high school tour, he headed to West Tisbury School for a visit.