By John Lynds
It was recently announced that the principal of the Harvard-Kent Elementary School for the last 11 year, Jason Gallagher, will become the next headmaster of Boston Latin School (BLS).
Gallagher, who led Harvard-Kent’s transformation into a top performing school in Boston culminating with the prestigious 2019 EdVestorsThomas W. Payzant School School on the Move prize, will take over the reins of the country’s oldest public school from outgoing principal Rachel Skerritt in the fall. Skerritt announced in March she was leaving her post as headmaster of BLS after five years leading the school. Skeritt successfully navigated the school through two years of the pandemic as well as a change in how students are accepted to Boston’s exam schools.
For Gallagher, heading to BLS in the fall is a sort of homecoming. He graduated from BLS in 1991 and his two sons also graduated from BLS in 2018 and 2021.
Gallagher, a lifelong Charlestown resident, returned to his home neighborhood after serving as a history and special education teacher at Braintree High School.
He kicked off his 21 year career with Boston Public Schools (BPS) serving first as a class teacher at the Harvard-Kent and then as an assistant principal at the District Office of Special Education before becoming principal of the school.
Over the past decade during Gallagher’s tenure the Harvard-Kent has exoperinced rapid academic growth. Harvard-Kent’s student population is uniquely diverse within Boston Public Schools. The school community is racially diverse, with nearly equal numbers of Latino, Asian, Black and Caucasian young people represented in the student body. Over half of the student body are English Learners, a quarter are students with disabilities, and more than two-thirds are economically disadvantaged.
Under Gallagher’s leadership the school has met or exceeded MCAS targets The 400-student school has also seen steady improvement over the past few years in both literacy and math while also narrowing achievement gaps.
The school was recognized for exceeding performance targets set by the state, one of 14 BPS schools to do so in 2019, and one of four BPS schools to do so for two years in a row.
Of his work at the Harvard-Kent Gallagher has said, “The most important thing we do every day is offer a safe and welcoming school to our students and families. We want to make our kids feel like they are in the best school not just in Boston, but in the country. If you are a member of the Harvard-Kent school community, we want you to feel important, loved and valued. And, we want you to become a proficient reader, writer and mathematician.”