By Mark Ambrogi
Dr. Mark Keen might have retired as superintendent of Westfield Washington Schools, but he is far from retired.
Keen, who is a member of Westfield City Council, recently was named a senior advisor to Dr. Jennifer McCormick, who was elected as state superintendent in November.
“I think I have a wealth of experience, and I think I can help make the department (of education) the kind of organization she wants it to be to help schools. I’m pretty excited about the challenge that lies ahead of us and the opportunity,” Keen said.
Keen, 69, said he talked with McCormick several months ago, when she announced her run and told her he would like to help.
“We kept in touch informally,” he said. “I did tell her I would help in whatever way I could help and volunteered my service.”
Keen retired as Westfield superintendent after 19-plus years at the end of March 2016. He then began working with the Dept. of Workforce Development.
“That actually is going to pay off nicely because there is going to be a lot of good coordination between the Dept. of Education and Dept. of Workforce Development going forward,” Keen said.
Keen said they have just talked about generalities about the duties.
“We haven’t got down to a lot of specifics because I don’t think I even realized that during transitions there are so many things going on and so many people pulling and tugging,” Keen said. “She wanted to interview all the people presently working at the Dept. of Education to see where their expertise was, and not a clean sweep of the house. She wants to keep talent where it is. So, we haven’t got down to the nuts and bolts other than I know I’ll be working closely with her.”
Keen said if McCormick can’t be some place, he will be there for her. He expects to have some projects.
“The transition ends and the job starts at the same time the legislature session starts,” he said. “I believe the job over probably the next two or three months will evolve. A lot of it is being the ears of the department, listening to people and going to meetings with superintendents, principals and teachers and listening to what they think needs to be done and how effective the department is being, so we can make improvements.”