Scituate’s METCO Director Is BHS Graduate Shawn Ayala

April 17, 2024
Shawn Ayala is a 2006 Bedford High School graduate who is now in his first year as director of METCO for the Scituate Public Schools. Courtesy photo

Editor’s note: This academic year, the Bedford Public Schools are marking the 50th year of affiliation with the METCO program. Among the accomplishments over five decades are three graduates who serve as school district METCO directors. They reflected on their experiences in recent interviews. The first story in this series focuses on Shawn Ayala.

“Now it’s a total full circle for me,” Shawn Ayala exclaimed. The 2006 Bedford High School graduate, who joined the Bedford public schools as a first grader under the METCO program, is finishing his first academic year as director of METCO for the Scituate Public Schools.

“I like to say my experience as a METCO student transformed my life,” Ayala said. “It was one of the pieces of my childhood that made me want more for myself.”

Scituate affiliated with METCO in 1968; there are about 70 students participating this year across the district.

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“Almost every staff member I come in contact with loves the program,” Ayala said during a recent interview. “There’s always a lot of work to be done and there’s a lot of support from the community. Families are extremely supportive; we have a lot of engagement.”  

He added that the district recognizes that the benefits of the program go both ways. 

Ayala began his Bedford METCO career in the fall of 1994 as a first-grader; two of his four siblings preceded him and one followed. His mother was working as the METCO bus monitor. She would continue on the staff until her retirement in 2020.  His nephew is a fourth-grader at Lane School and some cousins also are METCO alumni. “The program has been special for my whole family.”

“The METCO program helped keep us away from what was happening in the city, where it’s easy to make poor choices,” said Ayala. “For me, it was almost like an escape from the realities that weren’t always pleasant.” 

He added that involvement with his church was equally influential.

Ayala still marvels at the impact of exposure to much that was different, which “has always stuck with me. I remember staying over at a friend’s house and seeing things new to me – neighborhoods, parents’ jobs. I’m still close with some of my friends from first grade – sometimes our kids hang out.” 

His friends back in the city always spoke negatively about school, he continued. Sometimes they didn’t go – “Did anybody care?” The comparative value of education remains a powerful memory.

Ayala earned his undergraduate degree in business from Bryant College. 

“I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, except I knew I wanted to help people,” he said, recalling his involvement with activities such as Best Buddies at BHS.  

So, he spent a year in Houston under the Teach for America program, which turned out to be central to his direction. 

“I learned that maybe the classroom wasn’t the best place for me,” he said, but the one-to-one mentoring and interaction with students before and after school and on weekends were “my new passion.”

He came back to New England, got a master’s of education degree in school counseling at Cambridge College, and after a year at a charter school, accepted a position as a success coach at the former Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology, now Franklin Cummings Tech in Roxbury.

“I was amazed at all of the support they provided to students,” Ayala said. “They have a model for wraparound support. I’m a firm believer that every student can be successful if provided with the right support.” He worked his way up over eight years to the position of associate dean. 

He said he had been considering joining the METCO professional staff for a while. When he learned of the opening in Scituate, “I knew I was ready for a new adventure.”

“It’s definitely a challenge, and very rewarding as well,” Ayala said. “I still am building relationships and learning how the system works.” He noted that METCO directors meet at least monthly to share best practices and opportunities for students. Their experience is helpful, Ayala said; his counterparts in the neighboring districts of Cohasset and Hingham are longtime directors. 

But “every district is unique,” he stressed. “Everybody operates differently and it’s a learning experience.

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Maria Ayala
April 20, 2024 11:30 am

Great article son! I am grateful to have been apart of the Bedford community. Even more grateful that my children had the opportunity to attend a strong school system (Bedford Public Schools) that supports students and families. Keep having a heart to help others, I am proud of you !
-Mom

Ariana Ayala
April 20, 2024 11:23 am

Congratulations brother! You make me so proud. Shout out to METCO and Bedford Public Schools- I am a proud Bedford alumni!

Ariana Ayala
April 20, 2024 11:21 am

Congratulations brother- you make me proud. Great article and a special shout out to METCO and Bedford Public Schools, I am a proud alumni!

April 17, 2024 3:26 pm

Congrats Shawn. Well done

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