By John Monfredo, retired Worcester Public Schools teacher and principal and former Worcester School Committee member
Maureen Binienda built her education career at Worcester’s South High School, first as a teacher, then as assistant principal and finally principal. She was loved by students and parents and always put students first. Her innovative programs addressed hunger, poverty, kids’ dental, health and hygiene – as well as their education and career needs. photos submitted
Former Worcester School Superintendent and longtime South High principal and teacher Maureen Binienda is running for Worcester School Committee. To my knowledge, she will be the first school superintendent in Worcester to ever run for a seat on the School Committee! I believe if elected, she will bring a wealth of knowledge to the job surrounding teaching, staffing our schools, appropriate courses, student physical and mental health, AP class work, sports, internships and career exploration, mentors, the needs of poorer students and families and more.
As an educator for 47 years, Mrs. Binienda is well known in Worcester and well liked. She’s been in many roles and tirelessly served our school system with so much dedication and pride! As a former Worcester School Committee member and WPS teacher and principal, I have had many conversations with the public about Maureen Binienda. Community members spoke to me about her passion for education, her amazing work ethic, her love for the city and, most important, her willingness to do all that she can do to provide the best education and more for all our children. As many stated, she follows through on her commitments.
As a Worcester School Committee member, if elected, I believe Maureen would bring passion, knowledge, empathy, honesty, years of experience, love of kids and integrity to the job. Parents have always appreciated her reaching out and giving them a chance to articulate their opinions. As one parent said to me several years ago: “Mrs. Binienda has an outstanding work ethic, is able to look at both sides of an issue, knows how to establish consensus, and is well respected by the community.”
The time and effort Maureen puts into her job has been outstanding – because not only is she seen everywhere within the community, she is not afraid to deal with difficult problems within our school district. In addition, Maureen gives of herself in assisting others. For example, helping start South High’s Andy’s Attic where needy kids can get free gently used clothing, coats, shoes and boots. She’s been spotted volunteering at Andy’s Attic on a Saturday – sorting clothes for those in need.
She’s helped bring cheer to our immigrant families and adult education students at the Fanning building in downtown Worcester by helping serve Thanksgiving dinner for a community feast. She’s fought to assist our students in need pushing for scholarships for them from our local colleges.
In an interview with Binienda, I inquired why she was running for the school committee. She said, “I am committed to this community and want to continue to do all that I can in making a difference for our children and their parents. I have devoted 47 years of my life to education and want to continue to share my expertise in helping our district move forward. I just love trying to make a difference in our city.”
Having spent a lifetime at South High as a teacher, assistant principal and principal, I asked her to talk about some of the accomplishments that were close to her heart. She spoke about her assisting in the establishment of Andy’s Attic, the start of a South High food pantry, rallies to encourage all students to enroll in AP courses, the building of relationships with students, early on being a life-guard at the old South High, directing the South cheerleading team, being its variety show director, starting community service projects for the kids to engage in and tying those events into the teaching of volunteerism and civics … and a host of other terrific endeavors.
Then, in 2016, there was an opening for superintendent in our Worcester school system, and Maureen embraced the challenge. She applied for the job. In an interview for the position, she referred to herself as an individual who will go above and beyond to educate and support our WPS students. Since that interview she has more than lived up to her promise. As our school superintendent she was innovative and led the Worcester Public Schools with vigor and professionalism. Thanks to her leadership the district was more prepared to get through the COVID pandemic with improved technology programs and the purchase of the necessary computers for our students. During that period, we had students engaged in meaningful opportunities in and outside of school. In addition, there was an expansion of the College and Career Opportunities at the high school level, with such programs as an expanded AP Capstone, an expanded College Application Celebrity Day … more students received the Seal of Biliteracy on their diplomas and additional training for students in their PSAT and SAT testing continued. Chronic absenteeism was reduced, as well as suspension rates. Maureen also provided additional professional development to instructional staff in early literacy, math, science and social emotional learning. Under her watch, she placed school safety within the schools as a high priority and emphasized positive relationships, respectful interactions, acceptance and caring for others. She also brought to the school district many nationally known speakers. Our school district emphasized the importance of sharing information with staff on bias, discipline and social and emotional learning.
When asked what will be the main areas that she will discuss during her campaign for Worcester School Committee she stated: “My focus will address the following:
“1. Providing a safe school environment for ALL students, review current discipline policies and practices, and look for input from staff members and PTO‘s as to what needs to be done.
“2. Monitoring the fiscal budget ensuring that funding costs address the needs of the district.
“3. Connecting schools with the community to provide additional academic, cultural and civic opportunities for students to learn and grow.
“Obviously, there will be additional topics to discuss but those would be my top priority.”
This past school year, Mrs. Binienda finished up as interim superintendent at Quaboag School District and will now be in a similar role for one year at the Easthampton School District. When asked if this would present a problem in her run for Worcester School Committee, she said there will not be a problem with her new position, if she is elected to the school committee post in Worcester this fall.
There you have it! We wish Mrs. Maureen Binienda much success in the coming weeks as she campaigns for Worcester School Committee!