Superintendent, Concord Public Schools & Concord-Carlisle High School
Ripley School Administration Building
Interviewed January 20, 1998
Concord Oral History Program
Renee Garrelick, Interviewer.
I arrived at the Concord School system in 1969 at a very experimental time. I came to Concord when I was 21 years of age, soon to be 22. I'll never forget my experience coming up to my first interview with my wool suit on and it was a day of about 90 degrees. My interview was with Bob Diamond who was the principal at Sanborn School at the time, and I came in to a school environment where there was a 7th and 8th grade school and it all seemed so calm to me. It seemed very well organized, and everything was in its place.
I was coming in for an interview at a time of tremendous transition because the school was preparing to start the next September as a grade 6, 7 & 8 middle school. At that time there was a tremendous amount of experimentation being explored at the middle school. Middle schools were just coming into being at that time. This was introducing a 6th grade that was previously at the Emerson Building. At the same time the Peabody School was being built. It was actually being built as an elementary school. It must have been, because I'm not familiar with that history, that some decisions were made after the plans for the Peabody School were made and construction began to convert that quickly into a middle school. It was designed as an open space elementary, but it was now going to be converted quickly over to a middle school.
I was so excited about being hired and I spent my summer working preparing curriculum, not being paid, but putting in lots of time and really enjoying myself and preparing for the new school. I remember well being introduced to so many things that I'd never been aware of in my training in terms of flexible modular scheduling and open space and things they called mini-courses. All this new thinking of how schools can run. I began as an English teacher in 1969 and at that time the Peabody School was not ready to open, and for the first half year the faculty and students at the Sanborn Building were there and the other half at the Emerson Building beginning as a 6, 7 & 8 school, and the Peabody School was expected to be open in January. It was chaos to say the least. We were probably only a day ahead of the students at best in terms of all of the things going on. I remember well that it was very crowded. We had about 1200 students between the two schools. You can reflect on it today where you've got approximately 600 between the two schools and it feels comfortable, 1200 was so crowded. We were doing large group-small group instruction. I remember I was in a classroom teaching, and there was just a stand-up divider between me and another teacher. We actually had two classes in one room. I wasn't sure who I was speaking to, my class or their class. It was very difficult. There was an enormous commitment of time in planning. There was so much that was new and so much that was different and it was difficult. As I reflect back on it now and even several years after the beginnings of that, it's amazing that we were able to make it happen at all. Certainly today it would never be accepted in terms of the kinds of schools that we have today and the expectations. That level of experimentation would not be allowed without a great deal of preparation and certainly selling to the community.
Lots of things just happened without even any consideration of going to parents and talking about it and going through all the steps that we take today in terms of planning. The parents were very much less involved than they are today. Parents certainly had many concerns and we certainly heard those, but there was not the organized way of having input into the school and that is a significant difference.
When I was hired, Sayre Uhler was superintendent, and shortly after I was hired, Ralph Sloan became superintendent. I believe Ralph Sloan was here for maybe eight years and it was Bob Diamond who was the principal at the time. Bob was very much committed to this change in middle school so it was a very busy and hectic period. I stayed there in that position for about 7 months into the year when Bob approached me about being a guidance counselor. I was flattered and I'm not certain why because I wasn't trained there, but it was something that had opened and he thought that I would work well with the students in that position. So I then took on some counseling responsibilities and actually did a split between teaching and counseling for a few years before I became a counselor on a regular basis.
The other thing that was interesting at that time is that we were introducing life education, which is the sex education program of today. I remember the enormous amount of anxiety of parents introducing any human sexuality programs into the schools, so it's not a recent phenomenon. It goes way back in terms of any introduction of these topics. I remember well how the auditorium over at the Emerson Building was filled with parents raising lots of questions and anxieties. So there were lots of things going on at that time that had the community anxious and at various times, very upset about the way things were proceeding with the schools.
For the faculty and the administration, it was a time of tremendous energy and lots of things happening. Some things were not in the end positive and certainly some things in the end were very positive. Some things that came out of that experience are some of the things that we have today. The house system came out of that anxiety -- coming to a place where we had a more focused, sequential curriculum. At that time I remember parents coming in all the time with complaints about the mixed curriculum their children were getting before they were coming to the middle school and that one elementary school was teaching one way and another elementary school was teaching another way, and the way information and curriculum were being designed was very haphazard and there wasn't any consistency. A lot of that brought about a very organized, very focused curriculum development that took place into the mid'70s, late ‘70s and into the ‘80s where we spent an enormous amount of time really trying to bring much more focus to what we do in a much more organized way. Heterogeneous grouping, which we still have today, in many respects was an outgrowth of that time period, and while it has been refined in lots of ways, it was through that experimentation that some of these things happened. So there are positive things that as you look out came from some of those events, but I don't think anyone would want to go back and repeat what we went through.
I was a principal during the 1970s when special education really blossomed in terms of real expense and need of school systems. The Special Education Act in Massachusetts, Chapter 766, was initiated in 1977 and that was actually a year before I became principal. At that time it was, to us, sort of a bureaucratic nightmare, so much paper was introduced to us and so many very complex laws and regulations that we needed to follow. I think that as educators at that time we respected what the intent of the law was to be, but I think that what happened was that we got caught up in such detail that was provided for us that we began to lose sight of that intent. Things have evolved so much as a result of that law that Chapter 766 the following year then became the federal law 94142. Of course there's different language between the federal law and the state law, the state law of Massachusetts being much more restrictive and much more advantageous to students and families than federal law.
But it evolved over time and I think again this is another case of what was intended to be was probably overplayed to some degree. I think what we saw develop as a result of special education is the development over probably a 10-15 year period, 1977 into the early ‘90s, of a very sort of dependency, that special education began to be seen as a way for some teachers to remove kids from class and give them as a responsibility to somebody else, so those more complex situations could be shuffled off. Not in all cases was that good because there are many children who are better dealt with in a classroom environment. A lot of children do not enjoy being removed from the classroom, but it was fairly typical that at any time during the course of the day that whatever the schedule of the special education teacher permitted that a student is taken out of the classroom and brought into a special classroom and given some sort of instructional support. I remember it well as a principal, and the numbers of children who resented being taken out of the classrooms away from their peers where they wanted to be that it began to be for some children a time of embarrassment, a time of great upset in their day.
What also happened I think is we began to see departmentalization of children's needs and so that you know a child has a disability and because it is a disability, it becomes someone else's responsibility to address it. So the special education teacher and the regular education teacher even began to have differences about their relationships and their differences of opinion as to whose responsibility it is to educate this child. Too often the regular education teachers would see it as someone else's job. That was not healthy and it was not very good.
Fortunately, in the early ‘90s a lot of that recognition was made that we really needed to reverse on this and that's when inclusion began. No matter how severe the disability, whether it was emotional, physical or intellectual, there were other challenges being brought forth by the administration to do it a different way and not see it as a pull-out program but bringing special education people into the classrooms, work with children in the classroom and let them know that they can do all their work in the natural setting. Clearly that's where we've been for the past 5-7 years. We've still got a long way to go with perfecting our ability to do that. It's another challenge for us, but it's certainly a far better option for children. That's another example of how things have really changed or evolved. Now whether or not 10 years from now we're going to see that as the right model, perhaps not. Perhaps it's going to be a mix of both that ultimately we'll get to. I think that is probably the case from my perspective, but I think by going through this, by experience and also by the research we're having developed around this, it will be a better situation for everybody.
The schools are the dominant segment of any town budget and for a while schools had fiscal autonomy which was a lot easier that's for sure than now trying to finance education. It becomes inevitable that accountability is the watchword and that's certainly where we are in 1998. We're accountable now for curriculum with the new state frameworks, with the new assessments program that is now coming out. It's really going to be interesting to see what happens over the next 3-4 years in terms of what happens with this high standards, high stakes testing for graduation. I'm sure this is going to create a tremendous amount of tension at all different levels in the education community. But I think we are at a time of accountability, and I think that the challenge as difficult as it is today is that we need to be able to demonstrate that the money that is being spent is being spent wisely and appropriately, and I think we can do that to most reasonable people. The problem that I see with this right now that troubles me greatly is that I see this in so many communities, and it hasn't happened in Concord yet, but I fear that it's going to happen at some point and that is you create such divisiveness over those who support the schools and the financing of schools and see the need to raise those necessary revenues to provide the quality of education we've had in the past and those who for whatever reason, not that they devalue education, but they don't have the same perspective in terms of what makes a quality school system and whether or not they are going to be there to support it. In the process it creates tremendous anger and the way in which it gets played out in terms of the hostility, and I use that word as to what I've seen in lots of other places, it is hostility. There are things that are said by both sides of the issue that are very damaging to the sense of community. I don't know where that is all going to play itself out over time, but I think it is reasonable to think that we need to be more accountable. The issue that I see around the present structure of how financing is done and through the tax base where we certainly get 85-90% of our funding is that it's a setup and that the setup creates tremendous division, whether it's younger and older, wealthy and poor, or whether it's any social strata or whether it's simply a matter of one's philosophy about what are the appropriate ways and amounts of funding.
We're pretty much dependent on the property tax and I think that's clearly one of the things that the legislature needs to look at. I think there needs to be another alternative. I know there is a committee at the state house that's examining that long term but it certainly can't stay the way it is and expect that we're going... it's coming to an ending point to what most reasonable people would be willing to pay so there's got to be another way of looking at it. I think that will be on the horizon but my fear is that it'll only arrive after so much damage has been done in so many places that we will look back and say, why did we have to go through all of this. But that's what I see happening right now.
I think there are other ways, more progressive ways, in which the state could help to fund education. I do respect the fact that there are people in communities who are fearful of losing their place in the community, losing their home, property, whatever. There have to be better ways of dealing with that. People who have lived in a community for that long a period of time whatever their financial situation is shouldn't have to feel that way. There have to be other ways that we can provide relief and support for that kind of thing that tends to be a big piece of what is of concern or the more negative view of this. We need to also recognize that and I know that money isn't everything in terms of quality of education but to exclude money and say it isn't anything is inappropriate as well. Money is a factor. If you do any correlative study in terms of school districts, you're going to find that financing schools makes a difference in terms of the quality of what goes on, especially in public education. What we're able to do in the way of attracting good quality professionals has to do not only with a salary but it also has to do with what we can provide them in the way of professional development. Good teachers come in and they don't sit down and ask what their salary is. They want to know what are you going to do for me to help me grow and maintain my ability to be a quality teacher or grow into a quality teacher. Those are also investments that we make in the budget. What I find interesting in following school committees and committee members who have come in is that many people campaign on the basis of saying that I can do a better job of finding where the fat is, I can do a better job of identifying how we can better use our resources. I haven't found one school committee member who hasn't said after going through it, we're using our money well, appropriately, and no, I can't find ways of doing that, we need more to do the job that we need to do. I watched that history of people coming through. Most people who sit down long enough to look at the details of the budget, to look deep into that budget, recognize that it really serves quality of education well.
After more than a quarter of a century in education, particularly with my experience as a guidance counselor, the needs of students have probably changed in several ways. First of all, if I look at it from the perspective of what is demanding more of a counselor's time, it certainly is in the college placement process. When I came in ‘69 and looking back at the records, a fairly sizable percentage of our graduates did not go on to college. We only had somewhere in the vicinity of high 60%-low 70% of our students who went on to college. A fairly sizable number of people went into the armed services or went to work. Today we see 93-94% of our graduates are going on to college. That says something to me about a couple of things. It says something of the demographics of the town, and it also says something to me about what the school system represents to people coming in. When I think back, we didn't spend quite as much time. We spent more time in terms of jobs and career issues. We did much more in the way of that kind of thing. In terms of issues or problems, we certainly had lots of youngsters who we had concerns about in terms of their supervision, in terms of their conduct and behavior and experimentation.
I think today what is somewhat different is it's the same but in a different sophisticated level. What I mean by that is that the problems that we see seem to be more serious in nature. The trouble that children bring to us seems more complicated, and perhaps more complicated by the complications of society as a family. Families are different. We recognize that stress is a family situation today. There is stress felt in what the parents go through in terms of jobs, what parents go through in terms of raising families and the uncertainties of the day, and that translates out to kids. But what we see are not so much outward behaviors as much as inward behaviors. We see less of the kids acting out. I can go back and remember going through some of our schools and seeing graffiti all over the walls in the girls bathroom or the boys bathroom where something might be ripped out or some destruction. I don't see that any more. We very rarely see destructive behavior in our schools. As a matter of fact, I think we see very little destructive behavior in our community from young people. What concerns me more is that we see more inwardly destructive behavior, more children who are depressed, more children who are attempting suicide. We're going through that all the time now in terms of how our counselors are having to spend enormous amounts of time with small numbers of kids who really are in crisis. There is much more of a familial, family kind of situation, where it requires some real technical know-how about dealing with the pathology of family and the issues and the complications of certain behaviors that kids exhibit. So I would say that the issues of eating disorders, the issues of suicide, the issues of abuse and abuse can be on a number of different levels, abusive behavior to oneself, those are the things that we are seeing. We sat down two summers ago with the counselors at the high school and we were able to easily identify 5% of our student population that we considered in crisis. That's a lot when you think about it. So that's where our counselors are having to spend more of their time. One, with children of more severe and more tense behavioral issues, and number two, a growing anxiety and demand and need for guidance in the college process. That's sort of where we are today and that's what's different than what it was back in the late ‘60s or ‘70s.
Private schools in Concord have had a historically long reputation and there's always been a siphoning off point from the public school when the population goes from grade three to four. I've never really studied it enough to see why that is, but there are clearly a number of families either by tradition or by the culture of the community where a number of people sort of see this as an important departure from the public schools for some who go to Fenn School. Generally, you'll see that population go through the Fenn School, some of whom return in the ninth grade and some continue in a more independent school program. That's probably the most significant shift that we see. I would say that over the past several years, I see a little bit more with Nashoba Brooks than I saw before. That's a little bit more erratic than it is with Fenn. Fenn has been much more consistent. At the high school level, I don't see a significant shift there. What we've tracked over the past ten years is that the movement in and out from eighth grade through high school is almost a wash between those coming in and going out. We don't see an outmigration where we see numbers dropping. And generally speaking, for a variety of reasons people will go out or come back in because either the school wasn't the right fit, independent or public, or the student is having some need of either needing greater attention or needing some sort of co-curricular program that is more defined in another setting than we may have. They are specific to that individual. So as we track those shifts, which we have been doing, we can by and large say that they are particular to the needs of an individual youngster. Some go out and do it for a year, then say I want to go back to my friends, I want to be in town or whatever, and they will move back into the public school. So we don't see a significant change at that level. The only level where we see the drop that has some lasting effect is with the decisions after third grade.
I think back to Metco's history because I came here the first year that the Concord Public Schools had Metco. They had Metco at the high school two years earlier. Clearly the design of Metco was to be a desegregation program. That doesn't seem where the drive is to continue Metco. You don't hear people saying we have to have Metco because we need desegregation for the Boston schools or for our schools. I think that people see it as two things. Particularly the Boston parents see it as the quality of education issue or a safety issue or both. For the local community it's a matter of frankly that's the only way we get to see people of color of any substantive nature in this part of the educational process. If you talk to people in the school system, teachers, administrators, staff, people who work here, I think you would get an overwhelming response that that adds a positive to the climate of the schools. Certainly there are challenges. Certainly it presents issues and challenges in terms of how we deal with those differences when those differences are creating conflict. But the conflict creates opportunities in some ways of being able to really take those and be able to provide an educational experience that helps everyone grow and understand better what those differences are and why we need to look at those differences. That's the opportunity that I don't think people fully understand sometimes as far as what is the educational advantage of having Metco for a community like Concord.
The Metco program is an opportunity in lots of ways for us to be able to learn from each other. I think that's done that over the years. Metco hasn't gone without its challenges and problems for us, but I think we've met those challenges, some real crises at times, and I think we've turned those into experiences that I think people have learned a tremendous amount. The focus is different, what was the intent early on is clearly I don't think what we see today. Frankly, it goes with what we're doing today that's different in focusing so much more on academic standards and performance. We're spending less of our time today talking about the issues of difference and more of our time talking about how we provide greater opportunity for excellence for the Boston students. We're spending our time as a collaborative. There are nine communities and we work together really trying to identify not only the fact that the Boston kids are not performing as well as their peers in the local communities but how can we do something to improve that. So our focus today is much more around how do we give them the tools that they need to then go on and be successful and bring back to the Boston community or whatever the community is that they live in and the community of color, they bring back something that is going to be of some value to enhance and build the future. That's a big shift from where we were years ago. Everything was social back then. It was sort of the social contract we had. Today I think the contract is moving toward more responsibility to the academic contract and are we really doing well by the kids in terms of providing the best educational program. We're not in all cases. We haven't owned up to that as much as we should and really taken it on as a bigger challenge. So that's what we've been doing over the past few years. We do a lot today to try to monitor things like student attendance, student performance based on standardized and report card scores, and what we've done is create a number of different alternative programs before school and after school -- support programs, mentoring programs with teachers, ways in which we can try new approaches to provide the academics as the front runner issue.
I became principal in 1987. One of the things that has been interesting for me is that I've been in five different positions Â¾ teacher, guidance counselor, assistant principal, principal, assistant superintendent, superintendent. Each of those has given me a different perspective of the system. That's been absolutely fascinating to see. As a principal, I think one of the most difficult things is that many of the people that I was close to socially and personally now was on the other side of the fence. That was hard for me. That was hard for me to acknowledge that they didn't look at me the same way or talk to me the same way and that took some time for me to adjust to. I realized, and I hadn't given it much thought before that, how much the role one plays has something to do with the way people respond to you and the way people work with you and deal with you. So that was a hard adjustment for me. I think I adapted pretty quickly but I would say from that perspective what I began to see obviously is that whereas from a counselor's point of view or even an assistant principal's point of view you don't have ultimate responsibility so you're willing to give a little bit of grace or a little bit of leniency to situations where as a principal, you see it from a whole other perspective. You have the ultimate responsibility and when you see things happening you have to act in a much more judicial manner. You just need to act on it and address it. That probably was one of the biggest things. When you sort of sit there having ultimate responsibility, you can't be what you used to be. You can't operate and think and react the way you used to. You need to act with that ultimate sense of responsibility. I think that that was probably the biggest difference. I would see teachers differently than I saw them before, I would see kids differently, I would see parents differently and I just had to adapt. I had to see it from a whole different vantage point. So therefore I guess I knew that some of those relationships were going to change because my behavior was taking on a principal's behavior. Before I could joke and sort of say things off the cuff, and I found myself very quickly saying I can't do those things any more. Whatever I say is taken with another level of authority or seriousness so I couldn't be myself in some respects and I had to be the principal. So those were some of things I had to adjust to. It took some time but I worked them through.
I found the same thing was true when I went into the superintendency. Even as a principal and having all these teachers that I had a principal/teacher relationship with, when I became superintendent, I was the superintendent and therefore the formality was even ratcheted up more and I was further distant from those relationships and I again saw them differently. I had to look at the school as a school not looking at all the different segments of it, so that was different and I had to react differently as a result of that. As a counselor I would look at the students and they would come to me with all the complaints about the parents and about their teachers and I had another view of things from that point of view. It's so true from wherever you see in terms of looking at issues you can see it differently.
I've been superintendent for 10 years and that's been a very interesting and exciting time for me. I inherited a positive situation. Irwin Blumer was before me and he and I had a very good relationship. He asked me to be assistant superintendent the year before he left. It was fortuitous. I think he knew he was thinking of moving on, and I think there were reasons why he wanted me to come in. Irwin and I had worked very closely in terms of a lot of curriculum work during his period. When he left, we continued working on a number of those curriculum projects which I think we did a lot of good work in further establishing. During that time there have been a number of things that happened ranging from redistricting on two occasions, and that's not something I enjoyed at all but it was something that had to be done. The struggles through the life education program clearly were things that I don't necessarily want to go back and revisit every day, but I think we came to a place where everyone felt we were at a reasonable place to be, most people felt that way. The issues of budgets certainly have been an ongoing sort of test, but I think we came through that.
The more I think about it the things that probably make me feel most satisfied are for one, we've switched over somewhere in the vicinity of 70% of our faculty and staff over the past ten years and I'm really delighted with many of the hires. I think we've really built something for the future in terms of quality staff. I think we've made lots of improvements. We've made lots of moves on numbers of teachers that we tried to move out of the system, which we did and tried to do in a humane way. In a couple of instances we couldn't avoid some conflict, but I think for the most part we made some good moves there. Another is I watch what is happening with our kids coming out of the high school, and I see wonderful results. We've never had more kids taking SATs, 99%-100% last year, and yet having if not the highest, one of the two highest in the SAT results that are coming out. Our college placements in terms of where kids are going and the quality of schools has increased dramatically, and I think that one of the things that we're able to do in the whole process is that we have kids coming out of the high school who are more focused on the whole rather than just themselves. We have lots of kids coming out who really are not just sort of in to it for themselves. I just think we have an incredibly talented and very forward thinking group of kids coming out who really see the bigger picture of what they need to provide. I think a lot of that has come through a lot of the work we have done around things like the human differences work that we've done, we've done an awful lot of work with that over the past 10-15 years. I think it has to do with the requirements we have in terms of our service programs and some of the things that we do as a community in terms of outreach for kids because this is a community that has done an enormous amount of supporting its youth. I think that is largely reflected on the quality of the kids as they come out. I think they are really neat; they're terrific. I think that is really sort of the test when you look at what happens after a 12-13 year experience, what have you got as an end result, and I think that is where I prefer that people look. What is the exit point? What does it look like in terms of the kinds of graduates and what are their attitudes and skills and what's the end result of their experience. So I think there are a lot of positive things like that.
We started about eight years ago with an educational symposium which would be a community event and it would try to focus on a topic and we've had some very successful symposium sessions. One of those early on had to do with what are we doing in the way of helping and supporting young people in terms of decision making, where they are going, and how they help become more exposed to the options that they have and the kind of directions they wish to take, and part of the result was the school-business partnership. The school-business partnership has been in existence now for 7-8 years and has developed into I think a prime example if I looked at curriculum programmatic sense of what changes have taken place, I would put it right there as one of those events that I would look to and point to and say that's really the hallmark of what we can do. When I think about it, I think about it from the standpoint that we've got the Chamber of Commerce, the Concord Business Partnership and a variety of interested parties in the community that are really interested in reaching out and helping support youngsters in a mentorship sort of way or in a sense of exposing them to different possibilities for the future. Some of that is simply shadowing adults and seeing what they do in a workplace and leading to what we're seeing with some youngsters taking on much more serious activities in a workplace around a research project, around a longer term shadowing, and we know that there has been some really significant results. We know that there are a lots of youngsters who as a result of that have talked very seriously that this is something I would really like to do. It helps to set a focus for them around how they might want to use their time either in their studies or in their time off from school and have more exposure to it. I think it has been a significant response to have moved from the first year from 15 or 20 students in that shadowing day and we're now well over 100 and now we've even expanded beyond that to this year we had the professional day where we had sophomores going out and spending the day because we were having to expand the program. So the school-business partnership, which is a primary example of how the business community and the schools have worked to find a way to do something on behalf of the youngsters in the community, has developed this very exciting and very useful experience that kids are now grabbing onto. I think they're grabbing onto it because they're hearing from past years that this is really neat and you can really get something from this. It's not because they miss any school time, it's because they see it as a real value to them, so it's been terrific.
I'm now on to another passage in education. This is something that has sort of landed in my lap in some ways. The Executive Director of EDCO (Educational Collaborative of Greater Boston) is the position that I'm moving to. The collaborative has it's main office in Brookline and then it has it's educational services office in Lincoln. That's where most of the school work is done for professional development and so forth. There are collaboratives around the state that support local school districts around different efforts that they want to do together and the EDCO collaborative is a 22-member collaborative. It ranges from the city of Boston all the way out to Acton. It has Lexington, Brookline, Newton, Weston, Concord, Carlisle to give you some sense of it and you can see the diversity there too between the urban and suburban communities. It provides a way of focusing -- several things happen within EDCO. One is that it provides for some cost efficient ways of providing professional development programs. It is a way of providing some cost efficiencies for the purchases of bulk materials, whether that is furniture or computers. You can make more efficient use of finances by purchasing in bulk. It ends up working on some policy issues. It brings legislators together to really talk about some different issues that as a group that we think are important to their work. Those are all part of the collaborative nature of the work at EDCO. In addition to that EDCO does some very interesting things with the education of other populations in the state. It educates all children, all young people, who are in lock up, whether that's in DYS or that's in the county jail system. So anyone who is 18 or younger we provide the educational programming for them. We provide educational programming for migrants, children of migrant workers, and we provide the education for a variety of other at-risk populations and special education populations.
So there are about $19 million worth of additional programs that we run, and this is sort of going full circle because my first year to year and a half, I worked in a reform school. I certainly enjoyed that a great deal and I find myself sort of coming full circle to take that on at least that will be part of my work. But it's going to be a very different challenge and experience and I guess I made the decision to pursue this, not because I want to leave Concord because Concord has meant a great deal to me and I would love to stay right through retirement, but because sometimes there is a signal in your body that sort of says that maybe it's time to try something different. I've really never done anything more than 10 years. Every position that I've had has been 10 years or less in this system, and there are unique opportunities here to try. I think the other part of it is that I think about where this district is today that sometimes a change in leadership can take a lot of the good things, it takes things that need to be improved or changed and other people can come in and put their stamp on it as well in terms of taking the district to another place. Schools can always improve, always change, always be better and sometimes it takes someone else to come in and take a look at that and see where it might go. So part of it is also my feeling that maybe it's time. Maybe it's time for someone else to come in and have some influence. It's difficult, very difficult for me to leave but at the same time I've always followed my gut instinct and my gut instinct has said to me that maybe you should do this. Whether that happens to be the best decision or not, I won't know for a while, but hopefully it will be.