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New Boston Schools Superintendent Says She'll Look At Achievement Gap

CHARLESTOWN (CBS) - Boston's new schools superintendent Dr. Brenda Cassellius said she's going to focus on closing the city's achievement gap as one of the her first priorities.

Cassellius made her first public appearance since taking the job Wednesday with Mayor Marty Walsh at an event in Charlestown.

"It's going to take all an hands-on-deck approach," Cassellius said. "It's going to take all of us really wrapping our hands around these problems."

Superintendent of Boston Public Schools Dr. Brenda Cassellius. (WBZ-TV)

Cassellius said she plans to address the achievement gap through both in-school and out-of-school factors, "and that's where the community can come in and really help us."

Other issues that will have Cassellius's immediate attention will include school safety and reconfiguring schools to reduce the number of transitions for children. She said she's met with custodians and engineers to look at school safety and had plans to meet with teachers Wednesday afternoon to hear their ideas.

"I don't want to come with assumptions that some of the things that worked for me in the past will work here, but I do know that they have worked in the past," Cassellius said.

At first, she said, her position will include "a lot of listening" -- listening to teachers, parents and students.

"Your voice matters," Cassellius responded when asked if she had a message for children.  She said she hoped to work closely with the Youth Board and "try to really get them involved in the decisions that impact them every day."

Dr. Brenda Cassellius makes her first public appearance at Mayor Marty Walsh's Coffee Hour in Charlestown. (Photo credit: Michelle Fisher, WBZ-TV)

Cassellius is a former classroom teacher who oversaw the Minnesota schools for nine years. BPS says Cassellius enacted comprehensive education reforms, including historic new funding for schools, enactment of all-day kindergarten, state-funded preschool for 25,000 children, and has overseen historically high graduation rates.

And, yes, Cassellius, who has played with a women's hockey team for nine years, said she is planning to support the Bruins.

"Of course I'm going to become a Bruins fan!"

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