At the end of last school year, the METCO Director for the Reading Public Schools, Mr. Jason Cross, announced that he would be leaving his position. So, after a hiring process last summer, the Reading community welcomed Mr. Grant Hightower as the new K-12 METCO Director for Reading. In a recent email exchange, Mr. Hightower enlightened me on his past and his current day to day tasks in his new role.
Raised in Ledyard, CT, Mr. Hightower moved to Springfield, MA to pursue a college education. He graduated from American International College with a B.A. in Communications, then went on to Endicott College to get a Masters of Education.
Mr. Hightower’s prior employment is quite impressive, as he’s worked directly with many different communities, helping to better each one. He first started off as a Substance Abuse Counselor at the Warming Place homeless shelter in Springfield, MA. He then moved on to become a Sexual Abuse Counselor at Germaine Lawrence School in Arlington, MA. After that Mr. Hightower was a Special Education Teaching Assistant at Wellesley High School. Then, he went on to become a Cluster Manager at RHD-Boston, running four group homes, and then back to Wellesley High School as the METCO Coordinator. Now he’s here at Reading as the K-12 METCO Director, with his office located in RMHS.
While at Wellesley High School and being a teaching assistant, he shared that he had opportunities to work with many students and became connected to the students in their METCO program. Mr. Hightower knew he wanted to be involved with the METCO program, deciding to continue that career as the Coordinator at Wellesley High School.
His move to Reading was a clear choice because he was in the process of looking to move into a leadership position and was told about the vacancy in Reading. Mr. Hightower was a finalist in two other districts and Reading then let him know that he was their choice as well. After having a great meeting with the hiring committee and feeling secure about the opportunity, Mr. Hightower took their offer for METCO director and felt confident about the decision.
Mr. Hightower shares that each day in the office is unlike the one before. Since his role is so personal with the people he works with, things are often inconsistent. Although some aspects are done daily, such as starting each morning in his office at the high school, reviewing emails, and scheduling upcoming meetings and appointments. Hightower shares that he tailors his day around those events, and if there isn’t anything immediate, he checks in with the high school students. After his catch up with his high school students, he then visits the individual middle and elementary schools around the town. He talks with the students there as well, sharing he tries to go to each school about twice a week, making him accessible to all Reading students.
“They [the students] are easy to talk to and we usually can work out any issues or review anything that they may need,” he shared.
Hightower tole me that his relationships with the students vary based on the students and their needs. Some students prefer to self-advocate and have minimal contact with Hightower, sharing that he appreciates and respects their independence greatly. One of his goals includes having students who are self- reliant but also feel that they can trust and talk with him about anything, He provides students with support and guidance around social, emotional, and academic scenarios.
“It’s a privilege to be let into their world, and I try to honor that by always being available. We look forward to working with the families of Reading and building community across the district,” Hightower shared.
For further contact with Hightower and the METCO program, Hightower encourages anyone to reach out to him at his email [email protected]