Newsmakers: A school director, a superintendent and a college professor

Editor’s note: Newsmakers is a new regular feature spotlighting accomplishments of Newton community members, businesses and organizations.

Suzuki School director attends meeting with Japan’s prime minister

Sachiko Isihara, executive director of the Suzuki School of Newton, recently accompanied U.S. Rep. Jake Auchincloss, D-Newton, to a joint meeting of Congress with Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio.

Sachiko leads a team of 20 Suzuki teachers at the Suzuki School of Newton, a community arts non-profit organization with two main components: a Suzuki music program, and a full-day integrated arts preschool modeled on the Suzuki philosophy of education.

Sachiko was responsible for implementing a full-day, arts-integrated Suzuki Preschool in 2009 and is a frequent clinician at the annual MA Suzuki Festival. She holds teacher training and student workshops and sponsors collaborative Suzuki events in the Massachusetts area and recruits and nurtures new faculty and seeks to utilize our ever-changing world as a moment of opportunity for new students and educators.

She is a founding board member of the Newton Cultural Alliance Selected by the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women as one of their Commonwealth Heroines of 2020, she was recognized for her leadership and volunteerism for the betterment of her community. In 2023, she was appointed to the Suzuki Training Committee, an international committee of Suzuki teachers to advise on the Suzuki Teacher Training program throughout North, Central and South Americas. 

“The US-Japan relationship is stronger than ever, and Sachiko’s Suzuki music program is a compelling example of the cultural exchange that enriches Massachusetts,” Auchincloss said.

Sachiko Isihara, executive director of the Suzuki School of Newton. Courtesy Photo

Nolin wins Massachusetts superintendents leadership award

The Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents recently awarded Dr. Anna Nolin, superintendent of the Newton Public Schools, with the Bobbie D’Alessandro leadership award at their annual Women’s Educational Leadership Network conference on March 19.

The M.A.S.S. Bobbie D’Alessandro Leadership Award recognizes an educational leader who has modeled exemplary leadership and serves as a role model to others for her thoughtful and caring approach to leadership. The leader must also possess a laser focus on improved student achievement and a strong commitment to improving the culture of the entire school district.

“This is an immense honor and I am humbled to receive this award,” Nolin said. “This is my second superintendency in which I am again the first woman superintendent in the school system. It is important during women’s history month, and every day, to acknowledge the unique challenges of women’s leadership, even in 2024. The challenges are even greater for our women colleagues of color. The modern-day superintendency is a very difficult job and to be a female leader, head educator, and CEO in the education sector brings a whole set of additional barriers and perceptions deeply ingrained in our conception of effective leadership. I hope this award shines light on all women superintendents and their excellence.”

Recipients of the ward are recognized for their contribution to the superintendent profession, their demonstrated active involvement in the Massachusetts Association of Superintendents and experience overcoming certain leadership challenges. The award is named for Bobbie D’Alessandro, the former superintendent of the Cambridge Public Schools. 

“Anna possesses the necessary skills and knowledge to lead a high functioning school system and has a strong track record of proven performance,” D’Alessandro said in her award presentation remarks. “She has excellent communication skills…[creates] a creative positive culture for schools…innovates without creating havoc, and has developed clear pk-12 curriculum standards with a clear path for diverse groups to have conversations about achievement…People trust her… She is the ultimate coalition builder…with a fighting spirit to do what is just and right.”

Dr. Anna Nolin, superintendent of Newton Public Schools. Photo by Bryan McGonigle

William James College professor named to state mental health council

Governor Maura Healey, Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscol, and Secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services Kate Walsh have appointed Dr. Catherine Vuky of William James College to a three-year term with the Statewide Mental Health Advisory Council.

Dr. Vuky is an Assistant Professor in the Clinical Psychology Department and Director of the Asian Mental Health Concentration at the Newton-based college, an Associate Director of Behavioral Health at South Cove Community Health Center, and a member of the American Psychological Association.

“Catherine will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Statewide Mental Health Advisory Council,” said Gemima St. Louis, PhD, Vice President for Workforce Initiatives & Specialty Training. “A skilled clinician, respected educator, and valued mentor, Catherine will contribute to the conversation about the critical need for accessible mental health services.”

Dr. Catherine Vuky of William James College. Courtesy Photo