In photo, DSC Chair Thomas R. Polito, Jr., of Dedham presents Immediate Past DSC Chair Marybeth Nearen of Randolph with a plaque at the Dec. 3, 2019 meeting.
By Judy Bass
CANTON – Marybeth Nearen of Randolph was recognized for her distinguished service to the Blue Hills Regional District School Committee (DSC) as its chair for two consecutive school years at its meeting on December 3, 2019.
Chair Thomas R. Polito, Jr. of Dedham presented her with a handsome plaque adored with a gavel.
Mrs. Nearen was DSC chair during the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 school years. She was only the third woman to be on the DSC in Blue Hills Regional’s fifty-plus-year history, and she was just the second female chair.
She brought considerable experience to her role, including being the Randolph School Committee’s Chair of Policy, Vice Chair and Chair, all between 2006 and 2012. Mrs. Nearen was first elected to the Blue Hills Regional District School Committee in 2012, and served on the School Committees of both Randolph and Blue Hills Regional for one year until December 31, 2013. She was formerly Secretary and then Vice Chair of the Blue Hills Regional DSC. Her DSC colleagues elected her to be chair on July 11, 2017.
Significant changes took place at the school during Mrs. Nearen’s tenure at the top, especially the start of a major renovation project that began in June 2018 and is presently nearing its conclusion, and the selection of a new superintendent. Blue Hills Principal Jill Rossetti was appointed to the position in June 2019.
Mrs. Nearen and her husband, Paul, are former Blue Hills Regional parents. They have three adult daughters who graduated from the school - Melissa, Kathleen and Christine all continued their education beyond high school and are now successful professionals in their respective fields.
“I’m happy about the work that we do [on the DSC],” Mrs. Nearen reflected. In addition to the building renovation, which was green-lighted by the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) and then approved by the school’s nine member towns (Avon, Braintree, Canton, Dedham, Holbrook, Milton, Norwood, Randolph and Westwood) which she terms “a huge accomplishment,” she cited other milestones the DSC achieved such as revisions to the Blue Hills Regional policy book that took two years to complete (“That’s our bible”), the 2019 superintendent search, and the creation of new policies.
Above all, Mrs. Nearen did her job with humility (she calls herself “a servant of the assembly”), an abiding sense of purpose, a spirit of collaboration, and an intense desire to always do what was in the students’ best interest.
In describing her role on the DSC as chair, Mrs. Nearen said, “You have to be a facilitator and be neutral,” key advice that she said she gave to Mr. Polito when he took over as DSC chair last summer.
She passed along other helpful suggestions to him that came out of her own experience, like the importance of being aware of the most effective ways to communicate with the DSC members (some prefer phone calls rather than emails), choosing DSC members with background in certain areas to serve on subcommittees, and obeying the provisions of the Open Meeting law and Robert’s Rules of Order to consistently maintain transparency and decorum.
In reviewing her years at the helm, Mrs. Nearen said she felt “proud I was able to create the inclusion of the staff” in the DSC’s decision-making process when possible, a trend she hopes continues.
What was her primary takeaway from the time she spent as DSC chair? ‘To listen more and understand where people are coming from.”