He is used to overcoming obstacles in the NFL, but now, Dr. Omar Easy is tackling tough conversations about race in schools as the new superintendent of schools in Wayland, Massachusetts.
He has only been on the job for seven months, but Easy has made equity and inclusion a big part of his mission. The former fullback was raised in the projects by a single mother, has his PhD and hopes students can see his story as an inspiration.
"I had to do twice as much to get half as much. Whatever these kids can take away from me, I hope it is to never give up," Easy said.
Easy is also focused on diversifying the staff and closing the achievement gap. He said it is not lost on him that he was hired in a predominantly white school district at a time when racial tensions are high.
Get New England news, weather forecasts and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NECN newsletters.
"I said, 'A courageous action is needed for you to hire me here. If you're not serious about change, do not offer me the job,'" Easy said.
The superintendent said he is making sure everyone in the district knows inequities cannot be addressed unless everyone is on board. He commended Wayland for making a conscious effort to change the status quo and is looking forward to the future.
"Most of the time, I'm the only Black person in the room, but it doesn't bother me. I know why I'm here: To ensure every child in the district gets a fair shake," Easy said.
Discover Black Heritage
He often uses what he learned on the football field in education, and he said being a role model to students is the only position he wants to play.
"Sometimes, I think my presence here is change. Maybe it makes people uncomfortable, but at the end of the day, it's always students first, and you never know how it's going to motivate them," Easy said.