Geoff Walker recently became the new principal of the Fenway High School, which moved to Mission Hill last year. The Gazette recently conducted a question-and-answer session with him through email about the school, himself, and the challenges ahead. (The session has been edited.)
How has your background affected your educational philosophy?
From my experience, I know that all students can learn at high levels, be successful, and be valuable members of our community. Fenway’s motto is, “Work Hard. Be Yourself. Do the Right Thing.” Fenway provides a model that supports students to reach their potential and become the next generation of leaders. I am very grateful to have the opportunity to work with a community that so closely matches my values and philosophy.
What other positions have you held before accepting this position?
My first work with the Boston Public Schools was in 2001 when I became the program director for a local nonprofit called America SCORES Boston, which engages children in soccer and literacy in Boston schools. Following that, teaching at English High School and administration at Madison Park, the Timilty and the Rogers provided great experience in working with youth in our city. Most recently, I was involved at an international level as the principal of the American School of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.
What are your goals for Fenway High School?
Fenway has a strategic plan that outlines five main goals. It’s on our website (www.fenwayhs.org) but just to highlight a couple: (1) Fenway wants to continue to build on its history of academic excellence and (2) Fenway is committed to ensuring a smooth and successful transition to our new home in Mission HIll. I support this plan and look forward to working with all members of the Fenway community in refining and looking at new ways to continue the success of Fenway.
As the new head of school, my main goal in my first 100 days is to listen and learn from everyone involved with Fenway. I would love to hear from neighbors and community groups on ideas of how we can build strong partnerships.
What do you anticipate to be some challenges in your new role as head of school?
While the mayor did a great job fighting budget cuts this past year, I’m afraid that because of upcoming federal and state budgets that next year might be a very challenging year for schools financially. This will require collaboration and creativity to ensure that our children continue to have a great school experience. The saying, “it takes a village to raise a child” has truth and we all need to make sure that our Boston youth have great educational opportunities now and in the future.
What have you heard from the school community or neighbors about the new location at 67 Alleghany?
People are thrilled about our new location. Alleghany is a beautiful street in a wonderful community. As I said, a main goal of ours is to connect with the Mission Hill community. We already have some strong Mission Hill partners with the Mission Hill Youth Collaborative, New England Baptist Hospital, Mass Eye and Ear, Sociedad Latina, and Wentworth Institute of Technology. Thus far, I’ve been encouraged with our neighbor’s support. Even in the middle of the summer in my first few weeks at Fenway, community organizations like Mission Hill Main Streets and the Community Alliance of Mission Hill have already been in communication with an interest to build a partnership and support the school. We will be doing an event this fall where all our neighbors will be invited to visit our school and we invite all of Mission Hill to become part of the Fenway High School community. You can sign up to get our email communications on our website, or follow us on social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Why is Fenway High School an ideal place to work?
Fenway High School is well-known for being an innovative school that works, with faculty that care about our kids, and students who are hard workers and great people. It is ideal to be able to come to school each day knowing you are working to build a better future for our city. I’m excited about the future of Fenway in our new Mission Hill location.