SHIRLEY — “They’ve gone by so quickly” was the first thought Superintendent of Schools Dr. Thomas Scott had when reflecting on his 12 years of service.
Earlier in the year, the School Committee chose not to renew Scott’s contract, which now may be an opportunity, he said.
For the immediate future, Scott said he and his wife have planned a one-month stay in Europe where they will meet up with his son who has been studying abroad. The plans include a tour of France and the British Isles.
As for the past 12 years, Scott, who resides in Atkinson, N.H., said, “I’ve actually loved being here in Shirley.”
Working in a small school system in a rural community allowed him to get to know people, he said, and it is rare for a superintendent to be able to know the kids.
“When things get tough, to be able to walk down to the preschool and kindergarten you say, ‘That’s why I’m doing this,’” he said.
In the first 9 to 10 years of his service, Scott said, during education reform the state provided aid to schools all over Massachusetts including Shirley’s.
“We were able to do some really extraordinary things here,” he said.
At one time, the district offered Spanish classes from kindergarten through grade eight, he said. The schools had a gifted and talented program and hosted a 21-year-old intern from Japan, who Scott said was well-received.
“They just embraced him,” Scott said.
It was such a wonderful way to learn about a different culture, he said.
“It got tough though when state aid was cut by 10 percent,” said Scott.
During cutbacks, Scott said he fought hard to maintain a good core program for the district.
Two programs that still remain part of the curriculum that were arranged about 10 years ago are Nature’s Classroom and the eighth-grade Washington D.C. trip, he said.
Scott said he felt disappointed that the district hasn’t been able to dedicate more resources to the music program.
“I have personally experienced the incredible overall value (of music in education),” he said.
In his 36 years of experience with education, Scott said he has seen a dip in funding about every 10 years. If the history he maintains proves true, then he said, “We’re really at the beginning of an upturn again. I think there’s a positive sense of what’s going to happen in the future.”
What Scott said he has been the most impressed with over the years is seeing an out-of-district individual having a difficult time enter Shirley’s schools graduate and be successful.
“It’s (in) those types of moments you say, ‘Wow, I did something right,’” said Scott.
Scott’s advice to students is to really take advantage of the opportunities that school and education provide, as it is the best way to prepare for an exciting life.
“They’re so fortunate in this country to have that opportunity,” Scott said.
Although his last day in Shirley was Friday, Scott said he can’t imagine not going back to work.
“It’s going to be hard not to be working in schools and working with kids,” he said.
If he decides to seek a position in another district, Scott said he hopes to be in a small district where he can still be close to the students.
Scott said he loves working in education and has since the first day he walked into a classroom.
“What occupation has as its core mission the nurturing of children?” he asked. “It’s meaningful work. I’ve been blessed.”