2023 “From the Candidate”: Brian Ota


“I moved to Marblehead 12 years ago from the Cape and definitely call this unique seaside town
my home. When I retired from education last year, I began to look at moving back to the Cape,
but chose to stay in Marblehead. With this decision in mind, it is clear that I want to continue
contributing in a meaningful way to the town by running for a position on the School
Committee. Before elucidating on the why, let me tell you who I am.

I attained my master’s in special education and my first teaching position was in an inner city
vocational technical high school as a special education resource room teacher. After my first
year, I was told that with the newly adopted Proposition 2 ½ I would have to take a pay cut with
little chance for a raise in the foreseeable future. At that time, I was working two jobs to
provide for my young family. With great sadness, I left education and entered the private sector
in a computer company. From there I moved to a Fortune 100 computer company and became a program manager of a multimillion-dollar software development group. As time went on and
my family was financially secure, I felt the urge to return to the vocation I love — teaching. I re-
entered teaching as a special education alternative education teacher. When hired, I was
tasked with revamping the existing program for “at risk” students. These students needed help
in managing behaviors that prevented their success in a general education classroom. It was
challenging and rewarding to work. Over time I decided I wanted to make a deeper impact in
education and worked to get my administrators license and became a dean of students (similar
to an assistant principal) in the middle schools in the Dennis Yarmouth School District. I
remained there for five years and when an assistant principal position at Village opened, I
applied. Several years later when the Glover School principal retired, she encouraged me to
apply for this position. I did and became the principal of the Glover School.

During my time in Marblehead, I made many important district level contributions. I led a team
of principals to develop the first District Curriculum Accommodations Plan (DCAP) which
defines best teaching practices to ensure all students — general education and special education — get what they need to be successful. I took over the math adoption committee that replaced the longstanding outdated math books. This was done with over 20 teachers in the elementary and middle schools.
I was an instrumental member of the District Safety Committee updating and rewriting the
safety protocols and helped bring the ALICE protocols into the district.

At Village, I wrote and received a $10,000 grant with an additional $10,000 in donated time and
materials from several contractors including a Eagle Scout project, to develop an organic
learning garden called the Village Organic Garden.

As the Glover principal, one area I focused on was professional development (PD). PD is
essential to provide teachers the training they need to ensure their teaching skills are honed to
perfection. Working with grants and sharing the cost with other schools, we brought in a whole
series of appropriate speakers who directly benefited the classroom teachers.

My philosophy as a principal was to cultivate a school-wide practice of inclusive decision making. I used teacher leaders (TLs) to work with their grade levels to implement best
practices. As new directives came from the administration and/or the Department of
Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) the TLs would meet with their grade level teachers and formulate plans. The TLs would present these plans to me in our weekly meetings. We would then work out an implementation plan that ensured all grades would apply a
coordinated and integrated approach.

Parent communication was critical to me. To ensure they were kept well informed, I published
weekly newsletters, held Zoom meetings or sent emails or voicemails when necessary. I held
“Coffee with the Principal,” informal gatherings where parents could ask questions or I would
bring the group up to speed on current happenings. I worked very closely with the parent-
teacher groups to help get important information out to the parents.

Having been a special education teacher in a high school and a middle school and an
administrator in elementary and middle schools has helped me develop a unique and deep
understanding of the needs of students, teachers and parents.

One of my goals is to continue building a collaborative working environment within the School
Committee, school administration, Select Board and Finance Committee to ensure our
students receive the very best education.

As a retired educator, I would welcome the opportunity to continue being involved in the field
of education as a member of the Marblehead School Committee.”

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