After a short couple of years as Principal of Malden High, Ted Lombardi has announced his resignation from Malden High School. January 4, 2018 will be Lombardi’s final day as Principal of MHS and Boyle House Principal Christopher Mastrangelo’s first day as Interim Principal.
For Principal Lombardi, this decision has been quite a hard one to make and for the students and staff the decision had come quite suddenly. He stated that “this wasn't [his] intention to have things be so sudden, it [was not] at all what [he had] set out to do” and continued by explaining that “sometimes in life things happen in a weird order of events and you have to make decisions that you never thought you [would] have to make.”
Principal Lombardi had an original intention, which “was to do the rest of this year and see that out and have more of a normal transition” However, his intention was put to a rest due to an opportunity that was presented to him which not only “allows [him] to do the work that [he] really care[s] about, to work in urban education, but also to do so in a job that allows [him] a little more control over [his] time and allows [him] to spend more, in quantity and in quality, time with [his] family too.”
During the Summer and Fall, Principal Lombardi had spent much time contemplating the decision to leave MHS. He explained that “[he] was an assistant principal and a principal very early in [his] career, very young, and what [has] ended up being the negative end of that is that [he] now [has] a job like this at a point in [his] life where [he has] two really little children at home.” With that thought to consider, Principal Lombardi had realized “that [he] just [was not] around enough for them, [he was not] there enough for them” and sought a change to this.
Mayor Gary Christenson commented that “[he] thought [Principal Lombardi] was going to be the perfect fit… [and that Lombardi] was going to be here another 12, 13 years.” Similarly to Lombardi’s earlier comment, Mayor Christenson also stated that “life throws you a ton of curveballs and this was one of them, for [Lombardi] and for [the community]. We had thought [Lombardi would be at Malden High] for years to come but again life is not an exact science as evidence by this news.”
Although Principal Lombardi “[knows] this is the right decision for [him] and for [his] family, [he is] really sad for the decision for [his] MHS family.” When Principal Lombardi joined MHS a couple years ago, he felt the community “really welcomed [him], and [he] felt instantly very connected to and really in awe of the things that happened here.”
During his time here, Principal Lombardi has come to “really love it here.” He finds that “the kids are wonderful” and there is an “amazing staff here.” Principal Lombardi strongly believes that “[MHS has] the most wonderful study body you could ever imagine here. [He thinks] this is such a unique place, to have the most diverse high school in the state, to have so many amazing cultures, religions, whatever, represented here, in a place that really values that is something [special].” This is the reason why Principal Lombardi originally wanted to be here. He also describes that “[MHS has an] incredibly talented group of students.”
Principal Lombardi is also impressed with the academic talents of the student body of MHS. He stated that “[he is] really proud that [MHS is] among the highest enrolled schools in AP classes and in the state. [He thinks] if you look at the other schools that are on the top of that list, [they are] all very wealthy suburbs or exam schools -- and [that is] not [MHS] and [MHS is] still right there with them.”
Principal Lombardi is not too worried about the survival of MHS with such a sudden change, as he takes comfort in the resilience of the community. He noted that “[he thinks] in schools [people] get wrapped up in, and for good reasons, the impact that one person or some people can have on things, on lives. And that is 100 percent a good frame of mind, but the things that happen [at MHS] or the spirit of this place is much bigger than any one person or any small group of people.” This belief is what Principal Lombardi “keep[s] harping on or the one thing that gives [him] comfort in leaving in the way [he is], that Malden High School is Malden High School and there will always be these wonderful things about it and regardless of who is in [the principal chair].”
One of Principal Lombardi’s favorite phrases is “be the best version of yourself” due to his belief that “trying to fundamentally change people is a bit of a fool’s chase.” The question that Lombardi “always want[s] kids to ask themselves [is] “what would your best self do’ and in this day and age there's a lot of conflict, political unrest and a lot of things going on in the world. “[He finds] it's important that [Malden continues] to develop students here that have a real strong ground in who they are as people and what they believe and what they can truly do for others.”
After his time spent here, Principal Lombardi is confident that “[people] will always talk about Malden High School being this beacon of hope, where students from all over the world can come together and be unified and still have all these crazy unified pep rallies but all these wonderful exhibitions of culture and celebrating who they are. All that stuff in [his] eyes goes into… celebrating our uniqueness and our identity and [he thinks MHS] will always do that.”
Beginning in January, the community of Malden will be searching for a new principal to permanently fill in next school year. Going into the search process, Principal Lombardi stated that “truly knowing the student population is something that has to be a value and a priority of any principal of any high school, of any level, particularly of a place like [MHS].” He expressed that “[MHS has] 1900 students and you have 1900 unique souls among those 1900 students and that has to be priority one [for a principal].”
The search will be “very student centered” according the Mayor Christenson. Students will have a say in the search “even more so, [and after] speaking with [Superintendent John Oteri], [it is evident that] his initial thinking was to have even more students than last time as part of the process,” in accordance to Mayor Christenson.
Mayor Christenson stated that “[he] would like to see someone that is going to give [the position] the attention that it deserves.” He expanded that “[he has] always been impressed with the caliber of students at Malden High School… [there is] just something about that school that [he thinks] it deserves more than just a typical 7-3, 8-4, 9-5, job. It requires a day-in and day-out effort. [He thinks that is] what [Malden] students deserve.”
“Students are critical to the success of our communities as well” stated Mayor Christenson. He is confident in the community’s resilience in such a time and encourages MHS to “just keep going straight ahead. The foundation are [students] and the teachers and families. Keep collectively doing what you're doing and the future seems bright.”
Principal Lombardi believes the search committee should focus most on “[finding] someone who is going to enable the staff to be innovative with what they do in the classroom and most importantly someone who is really going to be there, to be an advocate for students and know the student population as well as they possibly can.” He stated that MHS is “fortunate to have a very skilled veteran staff of teachers here” and he looks forward to seeing them continue to keep MHS an innovative and unique school.
Looking into the future, Principal Lombardi had “honestly envisioned [himself] being here for the next 20 years or retiring from here,” however, “life takes all sorts of twists and turns and you end up making decisions that you never thought you’d have to make.”
Lombardi is excited to “get to be a fan instead of being involved with everything day to day.” He said that “[he is] encouraged by the fact that [he knows] this place will always be this place… and as sad as [he is] to be leaving, [he is] really happy that [he] had the opportunity in life to be a part of this for the time that [he has] been and [he is] very fortunate to have that.”