In addition to this year marking the fiftieth anniversary of the METCO program, the Hingham Public Schools district welcomed Carols Perez as the new METCO director for grades 1-12. Mrs. Perez is an alumna of Hingham’s METCO program who graduated as part of the class of 2010.
Mrs. Perez views her job as “wearing many hats.” She explains that her interpretation of what the METCO director’s responsibilities entail has drastically changed since she was a student. Now she knows that the job of the director is much more than someone who would “get the bus for us everyday.”
She is continuing traditions that former METCO director Andrew Demeci started in his three years as director such as “Chat and Chew” sessions with current METCO students. “Chat and Chew” allows students to converse with Mrs. Perez over their lunch period about all that is going on in their lives. She has also begun planning new initiatives to add to the program: “My hope is to do an alumni series where we get Hingham METCO alumni back here to talk to the students. Whether it’s in the time of ‘chat and chew’ or any other time. I think it’s important that we reach out to our alumni because a lot of them are doing great things.”
When asked to sum up a typical workday, Mrs. Perez says, “Unpredictable!” Starting at five in the morning from the bus depot she gets the students off to Hingham and then comes to Hingham to usually begin her day by taking phone calls and replying to emails. She shares, “If I am at my desk, I try to get face time with the students as much as possible, whether that’s having lunch with the students or one-on-one to discuss any given topics.” Mrs. Perez is also an advisor of the Mock Trial club.
In the future, Mrs. Perez says that her hope for the METCO program is that it “will grow.” The program has already gained much community and district support and has held events with both Boston and Hingham families through the Parent Partnership Initiative created last year. The METCO program had a table at Homecoming this school year and last school year. Nevertheless, growth in the number of students in the program is not guaranteed because it depends on placement.
Hingham High School Principal Mr. Swanson speaks highly of Mrs. Perez, saying that she has “done an excellent job in reintroducing herself to the [Hingham Schools] community.” He explains that she is getting to know the students and supporting them well and has started a mentoring program for METCO students this year alongside Mr. Shaddock. Mr. Swanson calls this “an impressive initiative.”
Current METCO students agree that Mrs. Perez has had a positive influence in her first few months as head of the program. Sophomore Christian Williams says, “It’s amazing to see someone who came through the Hingham Schools” who now guides them through their own school years. Other students of the METCO program such as senior Danielle Bentick and sophomore Samantha Espinal agree with Christian and see Mrs. Perez as “kind and easy to talk to.”
Looking into the future, Mr. Swanson reports that Hingham High School is in the process of creating Mrs. Perez her own office space as a new center for her everyday work and METCO students.