James Jette is 2020-21 school superintendent

James Jette, formerly the principal of Milton High School, said he plans to apply for the job he is now doing: superintendent of schools.

(Courtesy photo)

When the name of the school committee chair popped up on his phone, James Jette took a short pause.

“I let it ring three times,” he recalled.

It may be the last pause Jette will have in a while.

Jette knew the call was from Sheila Egan Varela, who was in the middle of a remotely held School Committee meeting on Aug. 26. She was offering him the post of interim school superintendent.

The members had just accepted the resignation of Superintendent Mary Gormley and voted to offer him the job on an interim basis.

Gormley had announced only days before that she was leaving immediately to attend to a family emergency.

Jette, who had been the Milton High School principal for the past eight years, was approached to see if he was interested in the job prior to the meeting, but didn’t know if he would be chosen for it.

He and the district’s other five school principals were in attendance from their homes, along with dozens of families and school employees.

At the meeting, Jette won the committee’s unanimous support.

Varela called him “a strong and brave leader” and noted his “first-rate” work in implementing a drive-through graduation for Milton High School in the spring and his inspiring statements on equality during a rally in East Milton that was held after the death of George Floyd this summer.

A little over 108 hours after he received the call and accepted the job, Jette was leading his first district-wide faculty meeting as superintendent and preparing for the Sept. 16 return to school.

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