School Superintendent Paul Dakin doesn’t mind being out in front of a crowd, just as long as he’s not holding an award and wearing a medal.
So it was that the City’s ever-popular superintendent quietly won the Massachusetts Superintendent of the Year Award in Los Angeles last week and told nary a soul about it.
In fact, word only got out when his inside administrators decided they couldn’t keep a lid on it any longer, and forwarded photos to the School Committee of Dakin accepting his award.
The award is one of 50 (one for each state) given out by the American Association of School Administrators – The School Superintendents Association. Dakin has been the president of the state association for the past year, and he said that had a good deal to do – in his opinion – with winning the award. He said being the president generates visits from officials and gives a district a good deal of publicity.
However, Dakin was not enthusiastic to talk about his big day.
“I’m cashing in on an award that really was won by others,” he said. “So, yea, I’m a little uncomfortable with it. Everybody on the staff of the public schools who work so hard make our schools and my work look good. That gets noticed because Commissioners and Secretaries of Education go through the schools and see how they work and the operations and I end up getting awards for these things that are on the backs of the good work others are doing.”
He said that being involved in the state association has brought about many new ideas to the district that others have carried out masterfully.
“You get a lot of exposure and the district gets a lot of exposure when you head up an association,” he said. “So, it becomes a natural progression when you move through the chairs of the organization. You learn a lot by being out there and not being isolated and not doing what only fits for Revere. You’re able to bring a lot of ideas from outside into your district. However, nothing would happen if I came back with great ideas and didn’t have excellent people to carry them out for me.”
Dakin said the organization awarded him with an all-expenses paid trip to Los Angeles to accept the award, and also to participate in several learning groups with the other 49 superintendents of the year.
“That was very interesting, learning from other superintendents who are considered the best in their states at what they do,” he said.
School Committeewoman Carol Tye – who is Dakin’s predecessor – said she couldn’t think of a more deserving candidate in Massachusetts.
“Dr. Dakin is one who sees the forest and the trees,” she said. “That is a critical approach to education and an astounding approach to life. He can really see it all…I think he’s an extraordinary human being, but certainly he is an extraordinary academic and scholar.
“Also, he is a hometown boy,” she continued. “That is important. I know it’s important to get ideas from the outside because you don’t want to become parochial. On the other hand, hometown people bring their heart with them from the beginning. Their hearts and souls are right here.”
Dakin said maybe the award would elevate the local opinion of the schools, and perhaps that would be an outcome he is comfortable with.
“I don’t know if the average citizen knows the high regard the Revere Public Schools are held in throughout the state,” he said. “Maybe this will certainly signify to the community that the school system is a powerful entity out there in this state.”