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Superintendent Tammy Mason's Farewell

Superintendent Tammy Mason's Farewell
Posted on 06/23/2020
Arlington,

This is my last letter to you as superintendent of Arlington Community Schools, so I want to take this moment to thank you for your generosity, love and support, trust and commitment to our mission.

Tonight, I conducted my final board of education meeting. As I sat there, I was reminded of the monumental vote that Arlington citizens made in July 2013 when 94 percent of the voters said YES to forming a municipal school district. That single, yet consequential, vote forever altered the course of our town, and it gave us something to be incredibly proud of.

I was recently asked why I applied and accepted the job of Arlington’s first superintendent. At the time, I was approaching my 30 years in education, which any educator will tell you is a glorious realization that retirement is near! Teaching for that long is tiring; the job, if you’re not innovative in your practices, can be cyclical and there’s always the voice in the back of your head saying, “You could have done more for kids. You should have done more.” Teaching can be draining, and it’s not for the faint of heart. It is, however, the most rewarding experience I’ve ever had. Being offered the superintendent’s position rejuvenated me at a time when all I saw were numbered days. It gave me the opportunity to build something from the ground up and to see the fruits of my labor. I’ll forever be grateful that our elected leaders gifted me with this journey.

I’m so proud of the work we have achieved in these past six and a half years. I say “we” because the success of Arlington Community Schools is attributed to all of us – teachers, students, parents, employees, community members, town leaders and the business community.

Our commitment to robust academic programming has made our district competitive on state and national levels. We took a gigantic leap to become a 1:1 iPad district that helped us earn an internationally-recognized Apple Distinguished School (looking at you AMS!). STEM Education is now available in all grades, K-12. Our students are now introduced to coding beginning in 6th grade, and our high school students have more opportunities to learn and build skills than ever before. Pre-nursing, criminal justice, welding, mechatronics, more than 31 college-level courses, 12 industry certification offerings, JROTC, cybersecurity, Bio STEM, digital journalism – it’s all at our students’ fingertips. We also created the PAVE Fine Arts Academy for our artistic creators, the Collegiate Academy for our thinkers and the Academy of Engineering & Innovation for our future designers.

Our accomplishments in the past six and a half years are equally impressive: several Reward School designations, an Exemplary School District designation, top 5 in the state for ACT scores, number one for ELA scores in grades 3-5, top five in the state for math scores in grades 3-5, a National Blue Ribbon School, one of the Best Communities for Music Education and a Top Workplace for two consecutive years.

As an Arlington taxpayer, you placed much trust in me and the ACS Board of Education to spend your tax dollars wisely. Since 2014, we have invested more than $15 million in capital improvement projects, and that was without borrowing or asking for a tax increase. We prioritized spending and made sure all entities were cared for. Thanks to these improvements, our campuses are thriving. The ACS Central Office building is a great addition to the town and was built with the future in mind. AMS has a new state-of-the-art gymnasium, one that rivals any middle school around. The turf football field has never looked better on our Tigers, and the athletic facility that’s still being built will improve the performance of our players for generations. Our schools are safer due to office reconfigurations, new LED parking lot lights, security cameras and thumb locks, and our buildings are more energy efficient than ever before. My team and I couldn’t have managed these great things without your support and trust.

While I’m certainly proud of these accomplishments, I’m more content in knowing that I always tried to do what’s best for kids. At the end of the day, we must never lose sight of our district’s sole existence: to improve the lives of each and every student so that they may create a better world than we did.

With gratitude,

Tammy Mason
A Friend of ACS