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Brookline High School headmaster retiring

Posted by Brock Parker  April 14, 2011 05:31 PM

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Brookline High School Headmaster Robert Weintraub has announced he will be retiring after the conclusion of the school year.

Weintraub, who has been headmaster at the high school for 19 years, will retire effective June 30, said Superintendent Bill Lupini. He will be a professor at Columbia University starting in September.

Lupini was attending a rugby game with Weintraub Thursday evening, and he said the two would not be available for further comment until Friday.

In a statement sent to parents and guardians, Weintraub said he is accepting a position as professor of practice and educational leadership at Teachers College, Columbia University.

School Committee Chairwoman Rebecca Stone said Weintraub has been a "wonderful" part of Brookline schools, but she is happy for him and the tremendous opportunity to be a professor.

"Clearly it's bittersweet for us," Stone said of Weintraub's retirement. "Bob has been so much a part of the life and progress and everything at the high school. He will be tremendously missed."

Below is the statement from Weintraub that was sent to parents and guardians of Brookline High School students.

Dear Good Parents and Guardians of Brookline High Students,

This afternoon, I addressed the faculty and staff of Brookline High. This is what I said. Please share this with you children. Thanks.

I could not have picked a better day to tell you what I am about to tell you. The extraordinary humanity, respectfulness, and activism of our Day of Dialogue makes me so proud of our school, and the culture of respect for differences that we have built together, over time. It was inspirational, and I want to express my deep appreciation to the student and faculty members of the BHS GSA, one of the oldest GSA’s in the nation,
who organized this day.

If we don’t stand for the right of every member of our school community to define themselves, and feel safe and a sense of dignity within their chosen identities, we stand for very little. At Brookline High, we stand for that, and much more.

So, sometimes things happen when you aren’t expecting them to happen. Several years ago, the State of Massachusetts changed the rules about pensions for school administrators like me. As a result of the changes, I would experience a rather substantial financial penalty if I retired after June 30, 2012. For the past few years, I knew that June 30, 2012 would be my last day at Brookline High.

Mary Burchenal, Chair of our English Department, speaking for her colleagues, sometimes says, "We work hard to make you look good, Bob."

She is right, and today, because my colleagues make me look so good, and because some unexpected job opportunities appeared on my professional and life horizon, I had very attractive post-BHS professional next steps. We want each of our students to have a dignified next step, and now I have mine. I will be accepting a position as Professor of Practice and Educational Leadership at Teachers College, Columbia University, beginning in September, 2011.

As a result, I will be leaving my position as Headmaster of Brookline High, after 19 years in that role, on June 30, 2011.

This is one of the most difficult and emotional decisions I ever made. As you know, I also work hard to make me look good...it is, however, truly a labor of love…a daily expression of my belief in and passion for the mission of the American public school -- teaching the children well, and loving the children. As I would often tell my former mentor Jim Walsh, "I
never had a bad day at Brookline High." (I've had tough days, but never a bad day.)

Never have I left my house in the morning without enthusiasm, optimism, and excitement as I headed over to 115 Greenough Street. How lucky I have been! And now, my long-term "residency" in this very special home is coming to an end.

You are my extended family; time together builds family, and, collectively, we have spent a lot of time together. Just as I am so proud of my own children -- Sarah and David, graduates of BHS -- I am tremendously proud of you, and deeply grateful to you, my BHS brothers and sisters, and sons and daughters, for working so hard over time, for working so well over time, for being so creative over time, for being so kind and caring over time, and for being so much fun over time.

When we read about, and listen to the frequent stories in the media about our schools, and school teachers, and school leaders, it is often less than complimentary. Teachers are not good enough; leaders are not good enough; and our data are not good enough.
I always receive this information with a quizzical spirit. There is such a disconnect, and so much dissonance for me between the generic public angst about our schools, and my experience every day, 180 days a year, at our schoolhouse. Our teachers are way better than good enough; our leaders are way better than good enough; and our data -- the quantitative and the qualitative -- are way better than good enough. And our students, yeasty and fermenting teens though they are...they earn our love every day.

They bring their best selves to their school every day, many overcoming serious family and emotional obstacles to do that.

I am one deeply humble and grateful man. You do make me look good; you do make you look good; you define the public school as an idealistic and successful public enterprise; and you honor the democratic mission of public schooling; it is about every child!

Together, every day, we earn the extraordinary public support of the good people of Brookline, Massachusetts. That is no small thing.

As you know, words are very important to me. And, I will deliver a farewell address before I leave at the end of June. In the meantime, I pledge to continue to work 24/7 for you, for Brookline High, and for the Brookline Public Schools, until the last second of my tenure as Headmaster of this renowned public institution.

Thank you.

Bob Weintraub

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