Marblehead Public Schools welcomed the district’s new Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity director, Caja Johnson, during the School Committee’s meeting on Wednesday night.
Johnson will report directly to Superintendent John Buckey and head Marblehead’s district-wide METCO program, a voluntary school desegregation program funded by a state grant. Through METCO, about 60 children from “racially imbalanced urban schools in Boston” are enrolled in local schools.
“My initial impression of Marblehead Public Schools has been absolutely amazing,” Johnson told School Committee members. “I already feel this really strong commitment to the students.”
Johnson’s first couple of days have been impressive, Buckey told School Committee members when he introduced Johnson.
“She’s prioritizing relationships and visibility and connecting with staff and students and not jumping into the administrative [aspect of the METCO director’s work],” Buckey said. “She is focused on connecting with students, talking to students and finding out what they need. [She’s] being seen in each of the buildings, so that the students in those schools know her.”
Johnson is responsible for all aspects of Marblehead’s METCO program from developing curricula to cultivating and sustaining relationships between urban parents/students and suburban parents/students and the school district. She will oversee and provide leadership and support for METCO students’ educational experience in kindergarten-through-12th-grade.
Johnson holds an associate’s degree in drug, alcohol and rehabilitation, a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in education.
While Johnson said she is brimming with ideas, she noted that initially “building rapport with the students is going to be a priority.”
School Committee member Emily Barron, the body’s METCO liaison, extended an invitation to get together.
“Once you’re settled in, we should make a time to meet, and we can talk about everything Marblehead and METCO,” she said. “We’re so happy that you’re here.”