LEICESTER, Mass. — Born and raised in Leicester, Superintendent Paul Soojian was a product of the town's school system before he began his 39 years in the field of education — a career he said was an honor to have started and ended in Leicester.
At last Tuesday's School Committee meeting, the superintendent announced his decision to retire in December.
While he also worked in administrative roles in Holden and Sterling, between his first teaching position in Leicester in 1975 and his five years as the district's superintendent, Soojian has been contributing to the education of Leicester's children for 23 years.
"It's been one of the biggest honors of my life to be able to serve the students in the community of Leicester," he said. "I've truly enjoyed my colleagues and the students — the kids in town are great — and to be able to come back and finish out my career here was really a good opportunity."
Furthermore, before getting into school administration, Soojian also worked as part-time Leicester Police Officer, teaching by day and working shifts from 4 p.m. to midnight.
Soojian said he takes pride in working as superintendent, and his work with others to move the district forward in recent years despite the challenges.
"We've been through the toughest financial times since the Great Depression, and we've been able to get through that and did it without decimating the district, and without alienating staff," he said. "To be able to work with the staff and the community to be able to keep us whole as we went through, that was very rewarding."
Now as he prepares for his departure and some long-overdue rest and relaxation, he believes "the district is in a fairly good place," but still hopes to see the school system move forward.
"We have kids that graduate and go on to great schools, we have a high percentage of kids that go on to four years and we need to maintain that," he said. "We've raised the bar, we've added more AP classes — but that never ends, we need to keep raising the bar for our kids and in order to do that we need to provide them with the best educational opportunities we can."