Five weeks into his new job as state Secretary of Education, Matthew "Matt" Malone is stepping forward as an ally for western Massachusetts schools and educators.
On Thursday, he continued his tour through this region of the state by spending a full day making stops in Lee, Pittsfield and North Adams.
Malone succeeds Paul Reville as education secretary, one of the four positions in Gov. Deval Patrick's cabinet that turned over back in December.
During a luncheon meeting with area education administrators, business and community leaders at Berkshire Community College, he spoke with fervor, humor and diplomacy about the present and future education landscape.
BCC President Ellen Kennedy welcomed the new administrator and urged him to continue to meet regularly with Berkshire delegates.
"I want to make sure Western Mass feels the love. We're a small state but we're split," said Malone, noting the geography and communications gaps between this side of the state and eastern Massachusetts, where most statewide educational decisions get made.
"But we all have the same interests and the same needs," he said.
Marybeth Campbell, state director of education and workforce development, who accompanied Malone on Thursday, said they've been to the region several times to meet with educators and legislators. She said topics of talks have ranged from school enrollment to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education and jobs.
She also said the secretary will be dedicating much of his time in the coming months talking with schools and colleges about Chapter 70 funds and the state budget proposals for the coming fiscal year.
During his address with his audience at BCC, Malone said he will continue Reville's work in pushing the governor's education agenda, which includes the governor's Achievement Gap Act and Readiness Project for 21st-century early education and K-12 improvements along with keeping schools connected with the higher education agenda known as the Vision Project.
"I think community colleges are the future of education in this country," he said.
Malone said he's also particularly interested in the learning more about issues of regionalization and rural needs -- something the former superintendent of 16,595 students of Brockton Public Schools said he's had minimal experience with.
Prior to Brockton, Malone spent four years as superintendent of Swampscott Public Schools. He has been credited with turning around failing public schools as a headmaster in Boston and as a special assistant to the superintendent in San Diego, Calif. His career began as a paraprofessional and substitute teacher in the Boston public schools in 1993. Before beginning his career in education, Malone served as a sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve.
He holds a master's and doctorate degree from Boston College and currently resides in Roslindale. He is the parent of two public school students.
Read Massachusetts Secretary of Education Matthew Malone's letter to citizens of the commonwealth here: http://1.usa.gov/YJTpWF