New Bedford’s City Magnet School Has Lost Its Own Magnet
Wouldn't life be incredible if we could just pop open a fizzy drink that had everything in it, and by drinking it, you become a positive, purposeful member of humanity? Drink it down and in a blink of an eye, you become the salt of the earth. Dr. Herbert R. Waters, Jr., was that person. He had it all.
A colonel in the US Marine Corps (Ret.), he was known about as Bert, "The Colonel," or "Black Eagle," as he was recognized in the Native American community. To the Paleologos family, he'll forever be remembered as Dr. Waters. I spoke with my family members and collected their thoughts on the influence he had on them.
"He was proud to be an American. Dr. Waters taught us so much about Black and Native American history, as well as American history, but all were equal, never one being more important than the other," remembered my daughter, Andrea Paleologos, who spent most of her elementary education at Sgt. William H. Carney Academy – known as a Magnet School 35 years ago. "He had high expectations of all of us, and refused to accept 'I can't' for an answer."
My other children Athena and Alex followed their sister at the school, and were shaped by Dr. Waters' pioneering, multicultural curriculum that celebrated multiplicity and all-inclusive cultural diversity. As a teacher in the New Bedford Public School System for 35 years – most of which he spent as principal of Carney Academy – Dr. Waters pulled no punches and spoke clearly about what was on his mind. One morning, he was overheard saying to a parent, "You need to take care of your kids."
Yes, we chose the right school, because it was Dr. Waters' incredible leadership and guidance for which our adult children attribute much of their success and outlook today.
Athena said Dr. Waters made the Carney culture what it is.
"He wanted every kid to do well. He was a father figure, a strong male role model for a lot of kids," she said. "He was a pillar in our community and any student or teacher that was a part of the Carney culture that he created is a better person because of it. He impacted me so greatly in my life."
"Dr. Waters prepared us for an un-sugared world," Alex said. "His reputation that he ran his school like the military was true, but everyone loved the discipline and order and something else he had: a kind, good heart."
My wife Celeste saw this for herself.
"On the first day of school, Dr. Waters had all the children gather together as the parents looked on, and he sounded like a drill instructor, and I became concerned," she said. 'But then his tone changed, and soon you felt safe with him, and you could hear he had a soft heart."
Celeste and I loved Dr. Waters. We celebrated many gatherings together, fun and happy times.
His obituary said he was an adept runner, completing 27 full marathons, completed biathlons, half-marathons and countless road races. "As his friends and other runners clutched their stomachs after inducing sugary drinks filled with electrolytes," it read, "'The Colonel' would crack open a beloved Narragansett beer and state, 'Everything you need is in this can!'"