Brian Ota is looking to return to Marblehead’s education system after a short retirement. The former Glover School principal is one of the four remaining candidates in the highly-competitive School Committee race that will be decided on June 20.
After just a year out of the industry, Ota found himself looking for something to dedicate his time to — and his passion for Marblehead’s school system was still strong.
Ota’s diverse educational background is what he believes sets him apart from past School Committee members. He earned a master’s degree in education, taught special education, and became an assistant principal before taking his passion to the Marblehead school district at the Village and Glover schools.
“They have never had a true educator on the School Committee. Most of the people are parents who want to get involved,” said Ota. “So I am the first one who has actually been a teacher and principal. The fact that I have been in this district for 11 years, I feel I know how things work.”
Ota was inspired to run for School Committee as a result of a close relationship he has with someone on the Falmouth School Committee. He believes his knowledge of how Marblehead schools operate on a daily basis will help him in a broader role.
He stated that if elected, one goal he wants to achieve is to create a less contentious atmosphere among the committee itself.
“People have literally been going after each other in public, that has got to stop,” said Ota. “When I was a principal I always worked on team-building.”
He also said that he wants to prioritize school safety amid the current unfortunate climate of attacks on school properties around the country. He said he has learned about safety opportunities through a personal relationship with a safety officer in Andover.
“I helped bring in ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate), which is our shooter response protocol. It is one of the largest companies dealing with these kind of programs,” explained Ota.
He added that he spoke with several police departments, which helped train him on ALICE procedures.
Ota’s final hope if elected is to establish more stability among teachers through an emphasis on improving professional development. He said Marblehead has a great group of teachers, but the budget does not allow them to do everything they are capable of.
“We want teachers to be best-in-class, state-of-the-art, but they won’t give us the money to go out and bring the necessary people in.”
Ota said he wants to give teachers clear direction for their curricula, as well as put them in positions in which they can focus on their areas of specialty.
“With Naan Murphy leaving and somebody else coming on board now, she had only been in the district a couple years but made significant changes. And now she’s gone and everyone’s worried what the new assistant director of curriculum will implement.” said Ota.
Along with Paul Baker, Jenn Schaeffner, and incumbent Sarah Gold, Ota will be trying to earn the public’s vote next month.