December 24, 2014

Who are Healthy Kids Heroes?
Yes, it is painful to threaten the illusion of safety in a school or community and to talk about death and loss. The New London School Explosion survivors did not talk about their painful experiences for more than forty years. Their stories clearly teach us that it is even more painful to live with a tragedy when opportunities to prevent loss were unseen or overlooked.

HEROES understand that when it comes to making decisions that impact children, "no risk is acceptable if it is avoidable."  

HEROES are committed to building schools for occupancy by children recognizing that standards, building codes, and guidelines that are based on the average adult male or workplace regulations are not safe for children because children are not little adults.

HEROES serve as a resource and mentor to the school community, setting up in-house systems for community participation, health surveillance, and ongoing hazard identification and control.
HEROES support the rights of parents to be involved in the decisions that affect their children, acknowledging that without informed parents, there will never be enough experts or inspectors to ensure schools are the healthy places and safe havens they are supposed to be. 

HEROES educate community members, preparing them to exercise their special rights as parents, employees, patients, students and citizens.  

HEROES advocate for precautionary standards and protective measures as active members of building committees, school health advisory councils, site-based management boards, and environmental quality teams that set child safety standards and guidelines for school design, renovation, operations and maintenance, pest-proofing, lab safety, and all activities in and around the school.

There is a hero in your school. It could be you!
Tell their story. Tell your story.
 ...let us suggest the legislature of Texas set aside a special day each year to be observed as a memorial day on which tribute will be paid to the children and teachers who died in this catastrophe...and to make laws of safety... Our daddies and mothers, as well as the teachers, want to know that when we leave our homes in the morning to go to school, that we will come out safe when our lessons are over.  
Click here to find the complete transcript of 9-year-old fifth grader Carolyn Jones' speech to the Texas Legislature.  Read it out loud in your classroom or at a school event.
Every year to mark the anniversary of the March 18, 1937 Texas School Explosion, I salute heroes whose extraordinary sense of responsibility and leadership is dedicated to protecting students and staff from chemical hazards and unhealthy school conditions.
Send your hero's story, name, and email/phone # by January 15, 2015 to
Do you know where your chemicals are?

Every year to mark the anniversary of the 
March 18, 1937 Texas School Explosion, I salute heroes whose extraordinary sense of responsibility and leadership is dedicated to protecting students and staff from chemical hazards and unhealthy school conditions.

Send your hero's story, name, and email/phone # by January 15, 2015 to

Lesson:  Skill + Values = Safety

One of the lessons of the 1937 Texas School Explosion is that those responsible for schools need to be highly qualified for the job of managing complex systems of both buildings and people. 

Who Is Your 2015 Hero? Every year to mark the anniversary of the March 18, 1937 Texas School Explosion, I salute heroes whose extraordinary sense of responsibility and leadership is dedicated to protecting students and staff from chemical hazards and unhealthy school conditions.

Each Healthy Kids Hero 2004-2014 is extraordinary for a combination of personal qualities and qualifications beyond credentials, a commitment to a safe quality environment, and an exceptional sense of responsibility for excellence.

Bring the Lessons of 1937 to Your School

Send your hero's story, name, and email/phone #   

Deadline: January 15, 2015

December 02, 2014

On May 8, 2008, Dave Sueper was driving to a business meeting when he was struck and killed by a distracted teenage driver who had run a red light. Scott Tibbitts, a chemical engineer and space entrepreneur who made motors for NASA, was the person Sueper was scheduled to meet that tragic morning, and he was deeply affected when he learned about the accident. Like Sueper, he was a father of two, and as an engineer he became fixated on finding a way to prevent another death from distracted driving...  

See more: Video story Yahoo News, Katie Couric @ 

So that it never happens again....

November 30, 2014

Margaret Heffernan,TedxDanubia, March 2013 
Management Thinker, the former CEO of five businesses, Margaret Heffernan explores the all-too-human thought patterns — like conflict avoidance and selective blindness — that lead managers and organizations astray. Full bio
Gayla Benefield was just doing her job — until she uncovered an awful secret about her hometown that meant its mortality rate was 80 times higher than anywhere else in the U.S. But when she tried to tell people about it, she learned an even more shocking truth: People didn’t want to know. In a talk that’s part history lesson, part call-to-action, Margaret Heffernan demonstrates the danger of "willful blindness" and praises ordinary people like Benefield who are willing to speak up. (Filmed at TEDxDanubia.) 

...not to be blind, not to be silent... 
Dare to disagree, Margaret Heffernan, TEDGlobal 2012

The truth won't set us free — until we develop the skills and the habit and the talent and the moral courage to use it.

November 26, 2014


To: Reporters and editors covering chemical disaster in La Porte, Texas

Four workers died at a DuPont insecticide plant in La Porte, Texas after 100 pounds of the deadly chemical methyl mercaptan leaked inside the facility.  The La Porte factory, like other DuPont facilities, has been cited numerous times for environmental and health and safety violations.

Following the death of a worker at a DuPont chemical plant in West Virginia in 2010, for example the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) found “numerous safety deficiencies” at the operation.  This CSB video re-enacts the incident, in which a worker lost his life after exposure to phosgene, a deadly gas that was used as a chemical weapon during World War I. 

... But the company that owns the plant, DuPont, has been making millions selling discredited “Employee Safety Consulting” to other companies for years. 

October 24, 2014

Who Is Your 2015 Hero?

The Cenotaph*
For Immediate Release10/2014 
Please post. Please forward.
Who Is Your 2015 Healthy Kids Hero?
Attention:  Science educators, STEM advocates, professionals in public health, school health, environmental health, facilities management, IAQ, IPM, health and safety, lab safety, school security, emergency and risk management, asthma educators, first responders, school administrators, nurses, advocates, parents and students.

Do you know someone whose sense of responsibility, inspirational leadership, and exemplary persistence and courage protects children from school hazards and unhealthy school conditions?

Send your hero's story, name, and email/phone # by January 15, 2015 to

The annual Healthy Kids Hero Award was created as an annual opportunity to tell the story of the 1937 Texas School Explosion and to inspire leadership to protect children from the chemical hazards and unhealthy conditions in today's schools.  (HEROES 2004 - 2014)

March 18, 2015 is the 78th anniversary of the 1937 Texas School Explosion -- the worst school disaster in American history. Just minutes before the end of the school day, a gas explosion killed more than 300 people, mostly students. In their new state-of-the-art public school no expense had been spared except when it came to safety.

New London Museum Video 4:23  New London, Texas, was known 
as the richest independent school district in the United States... 
Experience the tragedy and triumph as you step back in time with 
a visit to the London Museum in New London, Texas.
Lessons Learned. Lives Saved. The disaster resulted in a law that required adding a warning odor to natural gas, thus saving millions of lives all over the world. However, the false economies and short-sighted decisions that led to the 1937 explosion are still common in too many schools today. 

The Unfinished Legacy: Leadership for Excellence Needed.  The story of the 1937 Texas School Explosion needs to be part of our national legacy. Let's make March 18 an annual day to prioritize the values and technical skills we need to live safely with 21st century chemicals and technology.

Send your hero's story, name, and email/phone # by January 15, 2015 to
- - -

*Photo (Ellie Goldberg, March 2005) The cenotaph, erected in 1939 is the memorial to victims of the 1937 school explosion. The sculptural block of Texas granite depicts twelve life-size figures, representing children coming to school, bringing gifts and handing in homework to two teachers. Around the inside of the base are the individual names of those who died.  The Egyptians defined a cenotaph as a symbolic tomb, honoring the dead but not containing the body. It is a sepulchral monument erected to commemorate a person or persons buried elsewhere. 

March 03, 2014

Announcing 2014 Healthy Kids Heroes
For Immediate Release  ​March 3, 2014 | 617-965-9637
The Cenotaph, New London TX

Every year to mark the anniversary of the March 18, 1937 Texas School Explosion, I salute Healthy Kids Heroes whose extraordinary sense of responsibility and leadership is dedicated to protecting students and staff from chemical hazards and unhealthy school conditions.  

The 1937 TX School Explosion was ​the worst school disaster in American history, a gas explosion that killed more than 300 people, mostly students, just minutes before the end of the day in their new state-of-the-art public school.

One of the lessons of the 1937 TX School Explosion is that those responsible for schools need to be highly qualified for the job of managing complex systems of both buildings and people.

Each of these 2014 Healthy Kids Heroes is extraordinary for a combination of personal qualities and qualifications beyond credentials, a commitment to a safe quality environment, and an exceptional sense of responsibility for excellence.

Read: Mike Matley, Custodian,
Westborough Public Library, Westborough, MA

Read: Roger Young
Roger Young and Associates, Andover, MA


Lessons of the 1937 Texas School Explosion is dedicated to making March 18 a day to honor the leaders who teach safely and teach safety and to inspire all schools to prioritize the values and technical skills necessary for living safely with 21st century chemicals and technology.

A case study and cautionary tale. This story needs to be part of our national legacy because the flaws that led to the tragic explosion are still too common in many schools today – false economies in school design, building and operations, unheeded warnings and indifference to hazards and precautionary measures.

The Unfinished Legacy As a result of the tragedy, a law was passed to require adding a warning odor to natural gas, thus saving millions of lives all over the world. However, other important recommendations of the 1937 Court of Inquiry are still needed in most 21st century schools -- technically trained administrators for modern school systems, regular inspections and education about hazards, and a comprehensive safety code.

Bring the Lessons of 1937 to Your School 
Who Is Your 2015 Hero?

For more information contact: Ellie Goldberg,

February 24, 2014

Foxborough Regional Charter School: A Commitment to Learning and Leadership

Nominated by Robin Organ, Executive Director/Founder, GreenSchools:

“When it comes to identifying a Healthy School Hero, Green Schools believes the Foxborough Regional Charter School (FRCS) is exemplar! The entire FRCS community embraces the importance of Health and Wellness throughout key elements of their mission, including academics, service, and leadership.”

The Best of Everything!

Like the community in New London TX that was deservedly proud of its new state-of-the-art school building and excellent academic and athletic programs, Foxborough Regional Charter School (FRCS) has many building features, achievements and awards that make its staff, students and community proud.

FRCS, a K-12 charter school with 1300 students, was the winner of the Green Schools 2013 Green Difference Award for its outstanding commitment to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and for being a Green and Healthy School with a focus on wellness, sustainability and environmental education. FRCS was awarded the Gold Medal, a 2012 Commonwealth of Massachusetts Health and Wellness Award (tied for first with one other school) from the Massachusetts Departments of Public Health and Elementary and Secondary Education for comprehensive efforts of programming, curriculum, training, policies, and practices. Over 100 students participated in the 2013 Foxborough Regional Charter School Science Fair. (Photos Foxborough PATCH: Third Annual FRCS Science Fair ‘Huge Success’)

However, unlike the school in New London TX where students had the best of everything except when it came to safety, FRCS’s standard of safety and responsible leadership fulfills the needs identified by the 1937 Court of Inquiry for keeping students safe:

1) schools need technically trained administrators for modern school systems,
2) schools need to do rigid inspections and more widespread public education about managing hazards, and
3) schools need a comprehensive, rational safety code.

Indeed, FRCS’s staff and students can depend on school leaders with a high degree of technical expertise. There is ongoing professional development and training as well as engagement with local officials and community safety partners. FRCS’s values are embedded in comprehensive school policies and practices, curriculum and extracurricular activities.

“Safety and security is Ongoing, not one and done,” says FRCS Executive Director Dr. Mark Logan. "I am extremely fortunate to work in a school with extraordinarily caring and dynamic faculty and staff who constantly go above and beyond for our kids.  Our professional and collaborative culture recognizes the great importance that safety and security have on learning.  We embrace it and it is seen, heard, and felt throughout our campus."

Dr. Logan also serves on the Massachusetts Charter School Association Facilities Committee which assesses building needs and provides guidance on expansion, renovation, and financing with a big focus on safe, secure, and adequate facilities.
Highlights of FRCS policies:

“The number one priority for all our staff members is to heIp ensure students’ safety. It is our belief that when students are and feel physically and emotionally safe they are best prepared to learn.” (FRCS Safety and Security Plan)

“Foxborough Regional Charter School strives to provide a safe environment that supports academic success by providing school buildings and grounds and equipment that meet required health and safety standards (including environmental air quality) keeping them inviting, clean, safe and in good repair.” (The Wellness Policy)  

The comprehensive Wellness Policy and the integrated wellness curriculum include high standards for safe and healthy foods and snacks and beverages including ““No sponsors or partners that violate wellness standards.” There are important protective measures to make the school safe for students with food allergies -- discouraging food sharing, eliminating some allergenic foods from classrooms, and frequently cleaning high touch areas. The FRCS website includes information about the SafetySack for safeguarding medication for asthma or severe allergic reactions. The design of the building provides for convenient hand washing near the cafeteria.

FRCS has a variety of committees, working groups, wellness teams and a health and safety council that monitors, evaluates, recommends, and creates ongoing opportunities for interdisciplinary information sharing. FRCS has two nurses on staff.  The Health and Wellness Advisory Committee is chaired by a school nurse leader and includes a student leadership board. There is an Integrated Pest Management plan with both preventative and responsive protocols in place for pest management and pesticide management.

Building and technology management is efficient and effective. There is a software “ticket system” to log maintenance requests for building and technology systems, analyze needs and report corrective actions. There is also a ten-year strategic facilities improvement plan.   

Dr. Mark Logan, “Enter to learn. Exit to Lead”  

Executive Director Dr. Mark Logan has a bachelor's degree in legal studies and a master's degree in business. Throughout his career, he has worked with youth as a teacher, coach, and mentor. After spending years helping at-risk early adolescents and teenagers focus on overcoming obstacles and making smart choices, he formally changed his career to public education, seeking to improve the learning opportunities for a greater number of students.  Now twelve years later, he is making such a difference as the Executive Director of one of the largest K-12 charter schools in the state. Dr. Logan has also demonstrated his own continuous love for learning by earning his Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from Lesley University.
Dr. Logan’s leadership skills include developing leadership in others. He thinks of “leaders as teachers and teachers as leaders.” He says, “No one knows it all. Hire the right people and support them. Provide the stewardship, ongoing staff training and professional development to empower others.”
"I strongly believe in collaborative leadership and for our organization to continuously improve, we must actively listen to all.  My role is to facilitate meaningful conversations around topics central to improving the academic, social, and emotional growth of our students.  We all have a seat at the table to think critically, to problem-solve, and to create engaging and powerful opportunities for every learner."

The root of Logan’s values, and especially his interest in helping kids, is his mother who instilled in him an ethic of service. Even though the family was poor and she was a single mom, she took in homeless families to give them a supportive environment and sense of security. Dr. Logan learned that no matter what your circumstance “by enriching the lives of others you enrich your own.”
Thus it is no surprise that FRCS’s student leadership teams are an important element of its program. During a daily period in grades 6-12 students run extra curricular activities, mentoring and peer tutoring programs as well as service projects. Many are student-initiated with staff advisors. The teaching gardens, an initiative of the Health and Wellness committee, has rallied the entire K-12 community.  

Daniel Yates-Berg, “THINK BEFORE YOU ACT”

Daniel Yates-Berg is the FRCS Laboratory Safety Officer and Science Instructional Leader for AP Chem, Earth Science, Biology, Physics. He has a background in BioTech Research and earned a degree in Elementary Education at Boston College (1995). Yates-Berg taught in Rhode Island and is now in his fifth year teaching at FRCS.

Yates-Berg, a self-identified idealist, says that his own commitment to safety comes from several sources. First, his background in the BioTech research industry always emphasized high safety standards. Also, the Advanced Placement Science courses and the State Science Fair Safety Board demand high standards.

His motto for safety is  “Think Before You Act”. He adds, “There are new labs in AP Biology and Chemistry. They include more complex experiments that require more thought.”  

And perhaps, most essential, Yates-Berg cares. He has three children of his own and thinks of the students as his honorary nieces and nephews. “Accidents can happen to anybody. I feel the same responsibility for students as I do for the safety of my own children.”  

He feels fortunate and grateful to always have the understanding and support of his leadership. “My supervisor Ron Griffin has a background in science and Executive Director Mark Logan is fantastic.”

When Yates-Berg first came to FRCS, Dr. Logan readily approved his request to attend the Laboratory Safety Institute’s Two-Day Lab Safety training. “The LSI program was a great comprehensive training. It was intense and well-organized. I would highly recommend it. It gave me the tools and resources to create training for all the science teachers at FRCS.”

Yates-Berg developed instructional modules for chemical use, handling, and storage, and emergency response. The local fire and safety officials get information related to all the chemicals (types, amounts, locations, etc.) and both new and veteran public safety officials get tours throughout the year.
The new science labs in the expanded school facility included significant safety features. “We just moved into the new addition 2-1/2 years ago. Everyone shares the responsibility for taking care of it. We are going to take care of each other,” says Yates-Berg. MORE PHOTOS  

Yates-Berg values the close working relationship with the Foxborough Fire department and especially Deputy Fire Chief Steve Bagley who conducts regular quarterly inspections.

He called Bagley when he got a new electron microscope. “We talked to him about all the gasses we would be using. He made sure the exhaust fans were working properly. When the science club was making rockets we called Steve to be there to observe and make sure things are done safely. He is a judge at the FRCS High School Science Fair.”

Deputy Fire Chief Bagley comments that FRCS and all Foxborough Schools are very cooperative with inspections, code enforcement and safety tours. They have good communication and good working relationships. He adds, “Science teachers take their job seriously. They look out for kids and the public and first responders.”

FRCS is also involved in a school safety partnership with the Metropolitan Law Enforcement Council (Metro-LEC) that provides safety and security expertise in a variety of areas. One outcome is a school-specific comprehensive incident plan that includes both a hard copy and virtual infrastructure map of key areas.

The map shows chemical storage, labs, boiler/heater systems, electrical panels/rooms, etc. It also shows key internal and external points for safe evacuation, tactical response locations, rally points, command centers, student/family reunification spots, and press locations. Responding officials have immediate access to this hard copy and virtual plan on their IPad, for example.

As a result of the quality of FRCS’s grant proposal to the Norfolk County District Attorney’s office to fund the partnership with Metro-LEC, the DA’s office not only funded FRCS’s proposal, they also notified all Norfolk County school districts and public safety officials that they would fund their projects, based on FRCS’s grant. Now several school districts are developing their own plans with Metro-LEC and many more are in the queue to be completed.

Links to Foxborough Charter School Foxborough Regional Charter School Wellness Policy

February 23, 2014

Mike Matley, Super Custodian

A public library is the heart of most communities. People who work in public libraries typically share a pride of purpose that thrives on the public library’s cultural and educational mission. But public libraries and the staff’s commitment can be taken for granted and gravely undervalued, especially when budgets are tight.

This is a story about Mike Matley who has served the Westborough MA community as the Library Custodian for almost 30 years

He has an extraordinary mastery of the library’s complex systems and operational details and a sense of professionalism and duty that goes well beyond the job description of “custodian.” His ability and willingness to put his heart and soul into his work has protected and enriched the quality of the old library building and the lives of its staff and patrons.

So imagine Mike’s surprise when he found out that Westborough wanted to save money by cutting his position (and two other town custodians) and to outsource the job to a cleaning service.

When his job was threatened, his friends and colleagues at the library urged him to fight. With only 24 hours to prepare for a meeting, he wrote a letter to describe the many ways the staff and building benefit from his services and extensive knowledge of the quirks and idiosyncrasies of both.

To read Mike’s complete letter, news stories, and letters of support from Friends of the Library and the Library Trustees go to: Mike Matley, 2014 Special Hero, Westborough MA (
Taking Care

His letter to the Library Trustees lists the many big and little responsibilities of his job, the many tasks and decisions that the staff count on him to take care of, day in and day out.

The list include taking care of computer and audiovisual equipment, of humidifying, heating, ventilating and air-conditioning equipment, of electrical, plumbing, and mechanical systems and related contractors and service providers, and supporting a wide variety of programs, events and activities as well as inventorying, assembling, moving, supplying, cleaning, polishing, recycling, and much much more. He does preventative maintenance and routine duties and even responds to off-shift emergencies.

The staff and Trustees of the Library rallied to support Mike at meetings and in the local press.

Lessons Learned

Mike’s is a special kind of hero — a professional, caring, skilled, conscientious and dedicated public employee with high standards. His letter reveals a value so great that a simple ‘return on investment’ cannot be calculated.

Just as the false economies and short-sighted decisions that let to the tragedy of the 1937 New London Texas School Explosion, Mike’s story is a modern day reminder of how cost-cutting can put the essential elements of a community’s culture and quality of life and security at risk.    

Mike Matley

Mike Matley started to work in hotels at age 14.  He wanted to go into hotel management but one of his bosses discouraged him from pursuing that career.  When he graduated from high school in 1970, he wanted to go to Cornell but was deterred by the campus turmoil at that time.

He began working as a school custodian in several districts and also started a house cleaning business. His clients were some of the school employees who admired the quality of his work and his conscientiousness.

In January 1989, Mike answered an ad for a Custodian at the Westborough Public Library. He thought he would try it for only a year but dsiscovered he loved it.  And he has remained in the position ever since, working five and six days per week from 1:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Mike is extraordinary, essential, irreplaceable

Karen Fay, Chair of the Library Trustees, comments, “There isn’t any employee who cares more about the building and staff than Mike. When it snowed overnight he would show up at 7 am to clear the snow.”

“This job is his life,” says Fay. “He knows everything about this ancient building. Mike is extraordinary, essential, irreplaceable. His job description journal explains why he can’t be replaced and why he is so beloved by everyone. It shows what he does over and above his job description for the good of the library.

Fay adds, “The Trustees did a survey of 17 libraries using outside contractors and learned that all but one were going back to in-house custodians.”

Mike's presence is a constant. He seems to always be there for the staff, patrons and children. For example, a few years ago, Mike brought his twenty bonsai trees to the children’s room and enjoyed it when kids asked him about the trees.  

Surprisingly, Mike doesn’t use a computerized work order system. He keeps track of everything he needs to do in his head.

The Jewel of the Town

Maurice Weinrobe of Newton has employed Mike for 20 years as a house cleaner. Weinrobe says, “I have gotten to know him, trust him and respect him. It is a professional relationship and he has also become a friend. I look forward to him being here. He does a great job, often doing things we wouldn’t have expected. In twenty years, I don’t remember him ever missing a day.”

“Mike would talk about the library as the jewel of the town.” adds Weinrobe. “He often was doing things at the library over and beyond the requirements of the job. I wonder, how often do you find someone like Mike who is so devoted to an institution?”

Today, Mike Matley is still the custodian of the Westborough Public Library and has an action figure, “Super Custodian,” pinned on his door.

To read Mike’s complete letter, news stories, and letters of support from Friends of the Library and the Library Trustees go to: Mike Matley, 2014 Special Hero, Westborough MA (

February 22, 2014

Roger Young: A hero to the core of his profession

Roger Young is a national leader for best policies and practices in managing school facilities. He is a resource and mentor to many. He champions high ideals and has a gift for cultivating colleagues who share his values. He believes that the primary responsibility of school facility planners is to ensure environmental safety in school facilities.

“Roger is an authentic leader, the best in the business,” says colleague and friend Greg Lookabaugh, Senior Manager of Facilities Planning for Choice Partners, a service of Harris County TX Department of Education (  “He pushes for excellence and delivers excellence. He is one of the few bean counters who understands the facility manager’s role. Roger has unique ability to connect with people. He respects everyone who works in a school as a professional. He can walk into a maintenance shop and relate to everyone.”

Greg met Roger Young when Roger was chair of the Association of School Business Officials (ASBO) International Facilities and was developing the Planning Guide for Maintaining School Facilities (2003). Active in ASBO, both Greg and Roger recognized the importance of professional recognition such as the ASBO Facilities Masters Award and watching school districts being recognized for their achievements  but recognized the need to have a bigger impact.

They started the Facility Masters Conference in 2007 to providing training and bring  together facility managers, business administrators and custodians. Greg adds, ”Roger is the kind of expert who learns from everyone. By creating the Facility Masters Conferences and emphasizing connections, he encourages everyone to learn from each other. Roger’s goal is to make people better tomorrow than they are today. Roger is a hero to the core of profession.”

Caring Knowledge

Bob Berry, a retired New Hampshire school business administrator, met Roger about fifteen years ago at an Association of School Business Officials (ASBO) conference. “He impressed me with his caring knowledge of schools,” says Bob.

“Roger can find resources to help you solve any problem -- from flooring, to mold remediation, to asthma and indoor air quality. For example, he helped two schools work on grants to get resources for “No Idling” campaigns. If he’ s been involved in helping solve a problem, he stays in touch. He wants to know how things are working. He is always available to help.”

“He has been a mentor to me.  Our friendship is professional and personal. He instilled in me that my job was more than just taking care of facilities. I needed to look beyond the budget and accounting details to focus on the people.”

“Roger is skilled at working with every stakeholder and constituent. He sees issues from multiple perspectives — the facility managers, vendors, custodians, and concerned parents.  He teaches “not just what, but why.” He emphasizes the benefit of program and process evaluation for understanding where time, money and energy are going.

Roger has observed the link between effective school management and community support.  He has seen a school system with a history of mismanagement lose a community’s trust and lose an override vote. Then, when the school adopted responsible management, it gained credibility and built trust and the next attempt to pass an override succeeded. 

Roger has the authority and credibility built over a long career in school systems and being part of educational agency advisory committees and the leadership of national forums and professional organizations.

Roger has a BA in Business from Salem State, an MA in Education from Fitchberg State, and an MBA and advanced studies UMass/Lowell. He taught business  for nine years, was a director of Occupational Education and Work/Study at North Reading High School and then became a school business official in North Reading where he stayed for 27 years, 24ith one superintendent, Frank O’Donoghue. Roger was Executive Director of Business in the Haverhill Public Schools and Assistant Superintendent for Finance at Manchester Essex Regional School District.

Early in his career, in 1983, he became a member of Massachusetts ASBO and became part of its leadership. He was part of the MA  Department of Education Task Force 1995 – 96 where  the rubric for evaluating technology plans was developed. He is also past chairman of the ASBO Facilities Masters Award Program Advisory Committee, past chairman of the ASBO School Facilities Committee, and past chairman of the ASBO Information Systems Committee. He represented Massachusetts at the National Center for Educational Statistics forum designed to find ways to get accurate timely and comparable data to state and federal for policy makers.

Roger was the host of a monthly Facility Masters Webcast Series promoting best practices by engaging experts in important facility management topics, reaching over 7000 professionals annually. Webcast topics included:
Developing a Chemical Safety Plan: Tips for Reducing Risk, Improving Auditorium and Theatre Safety: Tips for Reducing Risk, Benchmarking School Operations and Maintenance, Indoor Air Quality Essentials For Schools, Effective Integrated Pest Management for Bed Bugs and Lice in the Educational Environment, Planning for Weather-Related Emergencies: Tips for Reducing Risk, Bleacher Safety and Maintenance, Inventory Management: Cost-Saving Tips for the Educational Environment
Roger also created the first national listserv for K-12 facility leaders involving 1100 professionals. Now, in business as Roger Young and Associates he continues to be dedicated to promoting best practices and procedures through consulting, bringing people together at conferences, and maintaining relationships throughout the country.

Like other Healthy Schools Heroes, Roger Young’s commitment to professional excellence has roots in role models and mentors who took pride in a job well done and who created an environment of encouragement.

One role model was his grandfather, a farmer, whose job was 24/7. He had a strong work ethic and a deep sense of pride in his work. While in school, Roger worked summers for a mason and saw his satisfaction and pride in doing a good job, especially his chimneys. Roger also credits North Reading Superintendent O’Donoghue with encouraging his professional growth and participation in professional organizations.  O’Donoghue demonstrated the value of long-term relationships for building trust, stability and institutionalized knowledge.

The bible for school facilities 

Roger says he is proud of receiving (and giving) many awards during his long career but he is most proud of his role as chair of the team that produced the Planning Guide for Maintaining School Facilities (National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the National Forum for Education Statistics and ASBO International, 2003).

The Planning Guide emphasis on safety starts with the Executive Summary,

“...School facilities maintenance is concerned about more than just resource management. It is about providing clean and safe environments for children.”
The Planning Guide established national best practices to help educational professionals develop, implement and evaluate an effective facilities maintenance plan. It is a resource for building committees, school health advisory councils, site-based management boards, and environmental quality teams that set child safety standards and guidelines for school design, renovation, operations and maintenance, pest-proofing, lab safety, and all activities in and around the school.

Chapter 4: Providing a Safe Environment for Learning is a comprehensive and detailed guide to recognizing unsafe conditions and managing hazards including the “Four Horseman of School Facilities Maintenance: IAQ, Asbestos, Water Management, Waste management.

...Facilities maintenance is concerned first and foremost with ensuring safe conditions for facility users - be they students, teachers, staff, parents, or guests. As important as cleanliness, orderliness, and instructional support may be to facilities planners, occupant safety must always be the top priority…

According to Bob Berry, “The Planning Guide is the bible for school facilities!”