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Superintendent Pamela Angelakis stands with Clarke School fourth-grader Myley Rose Cook, who was arriving for her first day of school as a Swampscott student (she formerly went to school in Salem).
Opinion

A Swampscott superlative 

Swampscott's school year was a day old on Aug. 28 when students, parents and her colleagues received great news about Superintendent Pamela Angelakis. School Committee members evaluated Angelakis and graded her exemplary in her overall performance and in major areas including management and operations, family and community engagement and professional culture. 

That vote of confidence says a lot about Angelakis, who has been superintendent since 2014, and the committee's faith in her leadership. School superintendents, like baseball managers, often have short professional shelf lives. They move from district to district at the whim of elected officials who either support their goals and leadership or philosophically disagree and part ways. 

Communities such as Saugus and Peabody underwent lengthy searches for superintendents before settling on leaders who enjoy their respective school committee's confidence. 

For Angelakis to enter her sixth full year leading town schools means Swampscott has a superintendent who knows the schools inside and out and who knows the town's students, parents, educators and elected officials. 

Committee members in their evaluation praised Angelakis and outlined areas where she can improve. Anyone who has sat for even a half-hour with the intensely-focused Angelakis knows she absorbs like a sponge any improvement suggestions and she is never satisfied with the idea that her goals are perfectly crafted. 

The five committee members praised Angelakis for making tough budget decisions and, individually, commended her for working to expand middle school programs and, when it comes to students' well being, her ability to focus on the intersection of academics and mental health. 

If she has a critic on the committee, it appears to be committee vice chair Suzanne Wright, who cited three areas where Angelakis needs to improve, including data analysis, administrative support and community engagement. 

Town parents can take heart in Angelakis' realization that the vote of confidence by the committee comes with her understanding that there is " … room for even more improvement." 

The committee's endorsement is important as the schools embark on a new academic year. It is also an important show of support in a year when planning for a new elementary school is underway. The school construction plan ultimately picked by town officials will have the power to reshape how the town's youngest students learn. 

In summing up Angelakis' value and accomplishments, School Committee member Amy O'Connor emphasized the respect committee members have for the superintendent. The use of that word is extremely important. It speaks to a strong, mature relationship between the committee and the superintendent and it echoes the results of past disagreements between the committee and Angelakis that ended with both sides seeing each other's point of view. "Respect" also implies that committee members and the superintendent each have clear views of their roles and how their responsibilities overlap. 

Town residents are fortunate to have an experienced, respected superintendent who can continue to make tough and fair decisions. We congratulate Angelakis on her excellent evaluation and wish her continued success.

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