Education Practice Consultant
Jim O’Brien spent his 35-year career at the forefront of career vocational technical education developing and implementing innovative and unique educational programs designed to advance the academic and technical skills of future artisans in one of Massachusetts “gateway” communities that has long faced difficult social and economic challenges.
Over the course of his career, Jim spent time as a classroom teacher, coach, adult education director, and assistant principal/dean of student affairs before being appointed Superintendent/Director of Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School in 2015 and reappointed in 2018.
O’Brien led an academic turnaround of the school that was in jeopardy of a state takeover by designing and implementing protocols to provide students with more intense and regular academic instruction and through increased supports and professional development for faculty and staff. Over a 2-year period, as a result of O’Brien’s leadership GNBVT went from near state takeover, to one of the top performing Voc-Techs in Massachusetts with consistently increasing graduation rates and decreasing drop-out rates.
Additionally, at the outset of the pandemic, O’Brien designed and implemented a strategic plan to provide continuous student learning with the flexibility to deliver remote learning instruction while being mindful of the overall physical and mental well-being of all staff and students.
Facing declining admissions applications, O’Brien lead the development and implementation of an omni-channel public relations and marketing campaign designed by The Perry Group to demonstrate the value of vocational technical education to prospective students and their parents. The campaign was centered around the schools’ core values, “Preparation. Passion. Perseverance.” that were promulgated under O’Brien’s leadership. Focusing heavily on community engagement targeting the English as a second language learners and featuring the school and its alumni as the foundation of the local community, the campaign was a success increasing admissions applications to GNBVT by 17% over a three year-period. As a result, GNBVT was selected as one of 10 schools across the Commonwealth by the State Department of Elementary and Secondary Education that are representative of why Massachusetts education leads the nation.
As a long-time school committee chairman in his hometown of Rochester, Massachusetts O’Brien brings a unique perspective to budgetary, personnel and community relations responsibilities school committees face as they navigate a delicate balance between student needs and taxpayer expectations.