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Derek O'Brien is the superintendent of the Anglophone South School District. Image: Brad Perry

Anglophone South superintendent reflect on first year

By Brad Perry Dec 27, 2023 | 7:00 AM

It has been an exciting year for the superintendent of the Anglophone South School District.

Derek O’Brien is marking his first full year in the role after being appointed to the position last fall.

O’Brien said one of his main focuses over the past 12 months has been ensuring a smooth leadership transition.

“When you make a significant change like that in an organization in the middle of a school year, that can be turbulent or there can be some challenges that are created along with that,” O’Brien said in a year-end interview.

“It’s not a time to come up with some innovative or great ideas and initiatives because schools are busy and working full-tilt on their school year.”

O’Brien replaced Zoë Watson, who retired in Nov. 2022 after 10 years as superintendent of the district.

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He is no stranger in the school district, having begun teaching in his native St. Stephen in 1995.

O’Brien went on to become vice-principal of Vincent Massey Elementary School in Saint Andrews, as well as vice-principal and principal of St. Stephen Elementary School.

He was superintendent of the former School District 10 from 2009 until the provincial reorganization of districts in 2012.

From there, he took on the role of Director of Curriculum and Instruction for the newly-formed Anglophone South School District, and later Director of Schools for the St. Stephen Education Centre.

Despite being a familiar name and face in the district, O’Brien said building relationships was one of his priorities over the past 12 months.

“Building relationships with our school administrators and the staff within our schools, but also building relationships with the district team, as well as our District Education Council,” he said.

O’Brien said empowering people to make decisions has also been a focus of his since taking on the superintendent role.

With such a large organization, the superintendent said there is no way he could know about everything that is going on.

The Anglophone South School District includes 69 schools and extends from St. Stephen to Sussex.