By Rob Ackerman
Rob Ackerman has been the principal of Lt. Job Lane Elementary School for 15 years and shares a little about his experience, joy, and challenges at the school.
How long have you been in your position, and how did you end up in Bedford?
I was hired 15 years ago by Superintendent Maureen Lacroix. Dr.LaCroix made a strong impression on me of how Bedford believes in developing well-rounded students. It was also clear to me that Bedford looked at diversity as one of the community’s strengths. I still remember the great support I had from the BEST/PTO members, such as Marge Heckman, and the late Annette Brown. They invited me to the BEST Circus the spring before I started so the kids could throw cream pies at my face… I knew right away it was my kind of town. And then on one of my first days on the job I met the other Rob Ackerman in town. Fifteen years later, he now works at Lane.
What makes Lane School special?
What makes Lane School special is the vibe of the school. It is a friendly place, evident when you walk into the office and are greeted by Ms. Lua, Ms. Ricci or Ms. Tate. The Lane staff takes their roles seriously but also knows that if you work in schools you need to laugh…a lot.
What types of challenges does Lane face?
The biggest challenge we face is the increase in anxiety amongst students and their families. It has gone up dramatically in Bedford since I first started. As a parent myself, I can relate to the anxiety. Some anxiety is driven by the pressure to be academically successful to get into certain colleges. Other anxieties are caused by challenging circumstances in peoples’ lives or even what is playing out in society. Unfortunately, there are no quick fixes, but we are trying to help our students manage their anxiety with a toolbox of strategies. Also, our counselors meet with students to help them learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. We can’t shield students from certain stressors they will encounter in life, but we can help them cope. Ultimately, students are going to be living their lives without us, so it’s important to give them foundational skills at Lane to equip them for life.
What is something that you would like the Bedford community to know about your school?
I want the citizens of Bedford to know that the educators appreciate the ongoing support for our school. At Lane, we are fortunate to have an amazing staff. The town can be proud of the people who work with our students. I’ve worked in other districts and I can attest there may be other towns that have teachers who are as good as Lane’s staff, but there are not any towns that have better educators.
I also want community members to know that elementary school is not like it was in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. The expectations of what we want students to know and be able to do have gone up. I attended elementary school in the late 70s in a well-regarded Massachusetts town. I don’t recall writing multi-paragraph essays with supportive evidence from the text in fourth grade, but I do remember doing class plays. Back then everyone did class plays.
What are your favorite things about Lane?
The moment I love each day is when the kids are waiting in the lobby at 8:10 a.m. eager to get to their class. Not many jobs out there where you get to start your day seeing a group of smiling kids. What I have not figured out is why they all want to run to their class to start the day and how they want to run out of school at the end of the day.