Ed Bosso is no stranger to special education. Before taking over in March as Perkins School for the Blind’s new superintendent and executive director of educational programs, he spent 30 years immersed in deaf education, holding multiple leadership positions. He sat down with Perspectives to discuss his lifelong work to improve education for all – and his new role at Perkins overseeing on-campus educational programs, as well as students supported by Perkins’ educators in public schools
What drew you to a career in special education?
I don’t look at our students as any different than any other population, and that perspective allows me not to lower expectations, not to think of them as “special.” We’re all human beings and we all have gifts and talents – they just manifest themselves in different ways. I think our goal in this field, and what I’ve always loved to do, is to find those talents and help the students let them flourish.
What brought me to special education is that too often these students don’t get what they deserve. Systems prevent it, and I just refuse to accept that. It’s a social justice war in some ways, to change people’s way of thinking about people with disabilities. I think part of our work is to be ambassadors and to show people what our students can do and the gifts that they have.
How do you feel about leaving deaf education?
I started out in special education before I moved into deaf education, and I’ve had every possible job in that field – from working in the dorms to being an interpreter to working in mainstream programs and schools for the deaf. I’ve had a 30-year career and now I feel like I’m at the beginning of my career again. I’m really reinvigorated to be here, I’m excited to be a part of this campus.
What excites you most about working at Perkins?
There is a tremendous amount of talent on this campus – the expertise is immense. I see myself being able to align resources and maximize efficiencies in ways that will get the most from what we have, using everybody’s talents and skills. I’m excited to help move us forward.
What do you hope to accomplish as superintendent?
My work at Perkins will be about taking things to the next level. That’s not an indictment of where we are now, but wherever that is, we’ll get better. I intend to learn and then share. In my first few months I want to be among the people – I want to spend time in classrooms, talking to different groups of people, listening to them, getting a sense of everything I can.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I am about building relationships and using those relationships to move forward. That requires getting to know people, getting connected, finding out what we share in common and building on shared beliefs. My job is to align things so that we’re all moving toward one common goal – the highest quality education for all students.