New Bedford School Superintendent Thomas Anderson is leaving the city at the end of June to face a new challenge in East Hartford, Connecticut, a district he grew up in and where he first taught.

Anderson joined Townsquare Sunday recently to discuss his five-year stay in New Bedford, some of the district's accomplishments and the challenges that lie ahead.

Anderson said he is very proud of New Bedford High School's ever-improving graduation rate, which at one time during his tenure reached 90 percent.

"We looked at cultivating the overall New Bedford team, focusing on the culture and climate at the high school, and it works. We focused on the people," he said.

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"Headmaster Bernadette Coelho and her team put great energy into reconnecting with students, getting them back in the building, and reaching out to parents, so they could understand the value of that diploma," Anderson said.

The graduation rate did fall back last year to about 80 percent, and Anderson blames COVID in part for that decline. He added the pandemic was the district's biggest challenge during his five years on the job.

Have students caught up yet?

"I don't think we're as far along as we could have been, but we didn't fall back as much as other places because of our preparation and outstanding teachers," he said.

Anderson said challenges still remain, especially attendance where a small group of students still miss too much school.

"There's a lot of outreach and we have that in place, it's hard work, but we have to sustain it," he said.

The complete interview with outgoing Superintendent Thomas Anderson can be heard here:

Townsquare Sunday is a community affairs program heard Sundays at 6 a.m. and 11 a.m. on WBSM.

The program highlights individuals and organizations seeking to make the SouthCoast a better place to live and work.

If you would like your organization featured on Townsquare Sunday, please e-mail the host at

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