New superintendent serves the district


Paige Williams

Dr. James Reilly, the new superintendent of the Wachusett Regional School District

A prominent new addition presides over Wachusett Regional School District this year. The school committee voted unanimously last March to appoint Dr. James Reilly – a former assistant superintendent in the Leominster school district – as the new superintendent. 

Last school year, Darryll McCall announced his retirement as superintendent leading to a search for his replacement. McCall worked in the Wachusett Regional School District for 23 years and served as superintendent since 2014.

Superintendent Reilly, who beat out three finalists from all over the country, from Huntingburg, Indiana to St. Johnsbury, VT, started his role as superintendent in July 2022.

Reilly says he vehemently believes in the power of education. 

“My life is in a different place because of the teachers and other people in education that I interacted with. They had a profound impact on my life. To be a part of that system is very energizing and fun,” he said. “I get to interact with other people who believe that too and I work with them to try to make things better. I think we [the Wachusett Regional School District] do have teachers and staff who care. I think we have some really great administrators who want to make a difference in their schools. At the end of the day if I’m exhausted, tired or stressed, it’s nice to know all those efforts have been in the service of trying to make a young person’s life better.”

This is the first time in nearly a decade that the Regional has been under the leadership of a superintendent other than McCall.

 Senior Connor Coffey said he has mixed feelings about this change.

“The new superintendent [Reilly] has big shoes to fill,” he said. “I think he [McCall] should have waited one more year so we had a full year of normalcy [post-Covid] before he left.” 

Senior John Witt has an open mind to a new superintendent.

“During times where so much is changing, it will be easy to adapt to a new superintendent,” said Witt.

Reilly started his role as superintendent during a time of change at the Regional as it transitioned away from years of Covid-impacted learning. 

“I don’t think it will be too hard of a transition because his district [Lemonister] went through the same thing [Covid] as us,” said Witt. “Wachusett is a bigger district than Leominster, so it might be different in that sense.”    

Rielly expressed his desire to succeed in leading the larger district. 

“There’s a challenge when you start to work at such a big organization to try to find out all the information that would be useful. I wish I had more time. You want so desperately to do a good job, you want so much to make sure you’re connecting with as many people as you can, but we really are such a big institution. That’s the biggest challenge,” said Reilly. “Trying to set up the systems so I’m communicating effectively and I’m also receiving feedback correctly. That’s one of the things I know I need to work on more.”                                                                                                                                     

Students and staff have hopes for the new superintendent’s priorities. 

Junior Nick Brousseau has one major hope for the new superintendent.

“I really want to have later mornings,” he said.

Guidance counselor Christina Lee also has a request for Reilly.

“I want him to focus on social and emotional learning across all grades,” said Lee. “Specifically more programming and staff.”

Entering the new job, Reilly says he is focused on listening: “My goal right now is to learn and have conversations and to have a much better understanding of the context of the Wachusett Regional School District.”

Along with listening, Reilly is also focused on learning about the district. 

“In general, I’m just trying to keep my ears open and have as many conversations with folks as I can. I’m walking in and pretty much everyone I talk to knows more than I do. My job right now needs to be to listen and to learn,” said Reilly. “I need time to understand the impact of my decisions and how best to frame those decisions.”

When asked about his favorite moment as superintendent so far, Reilly recalled the first day of school of the 2022-2023 school year. 

“Watching the staff welcome the kids as they came off the bus, seeing the kids smile as they entered the schools, that probably touched me the most,” he said. “I’m proud to have joined this district.”