“My management style is in the best interests of students, and in the best interests of staff,” O’Connell said.
“The thing that impressed me with Dan O’Connell was he mentioned the kids in a lot of decisions,” said Essex North Shore Agricultural and Technical School Committee Chairman George Harvey, who also serves as chairman of North Shore Tech.
Business, political and vocational leaders have pinned their hopes on the new 1,440-student regional school to train the future workforce of the North Shore.
The school, which is scheduled to open in September 2014, combines Essex Agricultural and Technical School’s agricultural and environmental programs, North Shore Tech’s vocational programs, and Peabody’s high school vocational programs.
It was pointed out time and time again that whoever was picked had the daunting task of merging the culture of Essex Aggie and North Shore Tech, making sure that different labor union agreements are honored, and coming up with a leadership team.
In fact, when asked what he would do in his first 30 days as superintendent-director, O’Connell passed a memo of 172 items that need to be done.
“The challenge is, no offense, we are late,” O’Connell said, in starting some items. “We need to do these things yesterday.”
He also said he would call the interim head of Essex Aggie, Joy White, to brainstorm ideas, meet with staff and create a leadership team by the end of April. He would also work to dispel misconceptions within both schools about the merger.
“We need to get rid of the anxiety about jobs,” O’Connell said. He also presented to the committee his deep knowledge of the project, describing in detail the ways he has worked to keep the project within budget and save money on transportation costs.
It was O’Connell’s familiarity with the project, and his passion for it, that seemed to sway members. Committee members said they liked Bouquillon’s collaborative style, his experience in the corporate world and his background starting out as a high school agriculture teacher in New York.