Just before Easter in 1995, Harvard senior John R. Connolly went to Manhattan at the urging of his Spanish professor, a Jesuit priest, to visit a boys’ school for low-income immigrant families on the Lower East Side.
By the end of the holiday weekend, Connolly had an offer to teach at the Jesuit-run school, beginning a short career in the classroom that would end three years later in what Connolly tearfully recalls as a “personal failure” at Boston Renaissance Charter School.
Now that narrow slice of his early 20s, his time as a teacher, has become an outsized part of his campaign biography, as the city councilor and experienced corporate lawyer is running to become Boston’s “education mayor.”
“My teaching experience is something that makes me unique in this campaign from day one,” Connolly, 40, said in the first minute of his first televised debate Tuesday night with opponent Martin J. Walsh.
In his political life, Connolly has leaned so heavily on his experience as an educator that he has spawned a grumbling backlash, spread through blogs and social media, that he was never a “real teacher.” He ridicules the criticism as a “birther movement” by disgruntled hard-liners in the Boston Teachers Union who oppose his candidacy.
You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month
Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.
- High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
- Convenient access across all of your devices
- Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
- Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
- Less than 25¢ a week