O’Shea gets passing grades in latest evaluation

LONGMEADOW – Longmeadow Superintendent of Schools M. Martin O’Shea recently received positive marks overall in his latest performance evaluation.

School Committee Clerk and Evaluation Subcommittee members Ryan Kelly presented the findings at the committee’s May 29 meeting, stating O’Shea’s overall performance was proficient. Kelly said while there was some variation in responses, the committee members’ scores and feedback in general were comparable.

“It’s nice to see that we’re all seeing it the same way,” Kelly said.

Committee Chair Armand Wray said the evaluation shows the community that it is “being mindful of the district and Marty’s place in the district and how our relationship is and that we’re making sure that we’re expecting the high ideals that make up the Longmeadow school system.”

The committee determined O’Shea met his professional practice goals, which focus primarily on improvements to leadership skills, community relations, and engaging school stakeholders. O’Shea was lauded for his introduction of a coffee hour series and the establishment of a parent curriculum advisory council. Committee members were satisfied with the regularity with which he met with them and parents expressed increased satisfaction in the quality of education and attention to students’ social and emotional needs in a recent survey.

Among the suggestions for the superintendent in this area was establishing an annual school safety forum.

The committee also felt O’Shea did well in creating an environment that was inclusive to all learners in Longmeadow Public Schools. The assessment specifically pointed to the new “See Something, Say Something” campaign, more professional development opportunities and training aimed at fostering culturally responsive practices and sexual abuse awareness. The district also implemented a new voice recognition tool utilized to identify students who might be abusing drugs or alcohol.

The committee recommended that the district develop a more consistent method to analyze and implement support for special education students.

The assessment also found that O’Shea fostered an inclusive culture in the schools to support students and staff alike. The implementation of a new life skills curriculum, new standards-based report cards, and expanded co-teaching were all cited as areas where improvements were made in this area.

The committee opined that an increase in staff capacity would increase opportunities for co-teaching and suggested O’Shea continue to work toward aligning curriculums to meet students’ needs.

In instructional leadership, O’Shea was found to be proficient by the committee and praised for, among other things, the creation of Longmeadow High School’s “Vision of the Graduate,” his use of local data to improve social and emotional programming, the implementation of the aforementioned report cards, and the refinement of new teacher mentoring programs.

The committee recommended aligning the curriculum, grading and assessment districtwide to the new “Vision of the Graduate.” This vision is part of the high school’s 10-year accreditation process of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, also known at NEASC. The district recently conducted a survey through which the vision was developed.

The committee also suggested introducing more individualized learning experiences to better serve all learners.

In management and operations, O’Shea received proficient marks, though some members of the committee rated him exemplary in this area. Recently successful collective bargaining agreements, the completion of a family reunification protocol, and specialized monitoring and reviews for English language learning, vocational training and civil rights were among the successes noted in the evaluation.

The committee also found O’Shea proficient in family and community engagement, though once again some members graded him exemplary. The assessment specifically cited the circulation of the staff and community survey to the public as well as coffee hours and question and answer periods after public presentations as positives.

The committee recommended creating internship opportunities within the community.

O’Shea was also determined to be proficient in fostering a professional culture through maintaining productive relationships with town officials, committee members, unions, and students and staff.

The committee again recommended beginning the alignment of curriculum and instruction to the “Vision of the Graduate” by identifying benchmarks at each transition level, citing this as the biggest need for the district moving forward.

After the evaluation was read, O’Shea commented, “I appreciated the chance to meet individually with committee members and that’s really where there’s a lot of value for me – having those conversations and that sort of back-and-forth to really understand the basis for your individual evaluations and the overall evaluations.”

He said he found two specific phrases especially significant and would provide guidance as he continues with the district.

Addressing the question “What does success look like for all our students?” he said he felt the district and community was ready for broad conversations on what defines success for Longmeadow graduates. He also noted that he agreed with the committee’s notion that “a good evaluation is to establish the next level of work.”

He said, “I think this document helps me and will help us as an administrative team move forward. We’re heading into the third year of a district improvement plan, but I think we’re ready to take that on. We’ve institutionalized and systematized a lot of practices that are in that improvement plan, but now how do we take that to the next level is the question.”