WORCESTER, Mass. - Worcester's new superintendent Dr. Rachel Monarrez is spending her summer inside school buildings meeting with students and staff for the very first time. She said so far it's been a warm welcome.

"It just keeps happening. Everyone is just so welcoming in different ways," Monarrez said. "Sweet and kind and excited about life."

What You Need To Know

  • Worcester's new superintendent Dr. Rachel Monarrez is spending the summer meeting with students and staff ahead of her first school year in the city
  • The California native said priorities for the fall include smoothing over the transition to district-run transportation and creating a safe environment for students

  • She is also looking for ways to improve the district's nearly 33% chronic absenteeism rate

  • Monarrez said her number one priority is taking the time to listen and gather information, especially in her first year in Worcester

The California native said there's a learning curve that comes with being a new face in a big city. Interactions with students and faculty members reaffirm her commitment to the community.

"Just shows me how fabulous the kids are here and the staff," said Monarrez. "So I am really looking forward to more time with them."

High on her priority list for the fall is smoothing over the switch to district run transportation. 

"​We have to make sure our students are getting to school on time," said Monarrez. "That we have processes in place that if for some reason we don't get them on time right way that they don't get marked tardy. It's not their fault, we need to fix that."

Monarrez said once kids get to school, she wants to make sure they are in a space that is both physically and mentally safe. She is also looking for ways to improve the districts nearly 33% absenteeism rate.

"If we have students that indeed are missing school....Do we have mitigation plans?" said Monarrez. "Who does that? What's the frequency on monitoring and how do we get support to the family?"

On her a personal level, Monarrez wants students, staff, and families to know her number one priority right now is listening and taking the time to observe and gather information.

"You know my entry plan very much says this is just a listening time," said Monarrez. "I want people to feel like if they reach out to me, I will listen. That doesn't mean I have all the answers because I won't and it would be irresponsible of me to jump too quickly."