DANVERS — If elected to the School Committee on Tuesday, this would be the second go-around on the board for lifelong professional educator Jack Billings.
Billings, 57, served one term on the school board from 2000 to 2003, according to the Town Clerk’s office. He’s seeking one of two available three-year terms. He even served alongside the present School Committee Chairman Eric Crane, who is also seeking another term.
Billings said the schools need to do more to pull students up from the middle, while maintaining its “phenomenal” sports teams and music programs.
“When you look at the academic achievement of the Danvers Public Schools in comparison to Andover, Lynnfield, Swampscott, towns of similar demographics, Hamilton-Wenham, we consistently, to a degree of statistical significance, underperform like students,” Billings said. “I am trying to find out why, after 10 to 12 years, we have stalled in mediocrity.”
A Salem native, Billings moved to Danvers in 1971. The St. John’s Prep graduate met his wife, Cheryl (Gagnon), while both were park instructors in town. They raised two children, Ross and Diana, both of whom attended Danvers schools. He has three grandchildren.
Billings’ family inspired him to be an educator. His aunt taught in the same first-grade classroom for 51 years in Peabody, his mother trained at Salem State to be a teacher, and his late father was once Salem State’s comptroller, he said.
“We grew up in a family that was really passionate about it (education),” said Billings, who holds a doctorate in instructional leadership among his degrees. His wife is a music educator.
Billings started his career teaching fourth grade in the Highlands School and has held many positions in education in the state over the years. He teaches university learning with doctoral students online. He has taught graduate school at Endicott College, and he works at Wellspring House in Gloucester as director of community education where he develops programs for adult learners in transition.