School bells rang dismissal Friday for the final time with Mayor Michael Bloomberg in control of the city's education system, an emotional day not necessarily for the mayor, but for Dennis Walcott, the man who stood by Bloomberg's side throughout the 12-year struggle to remake the schools. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.
From the moment Michael Bloomberg became Mayor Bloomberg, Dennis Walcott was there to help with education.
Walcott's a loyal soldier, and for a decade as deputy mayor, he supported Chancellor Joel Klein and, briefly, Chancellor Cathie Black.
"My friends would go, 'Oh, your dad, he's doing security detail.' No, no no no. He works in City Hall," said Dejeanne Walcott, Dennis Walcott's daughter.
With Bloomberg determined to reconstruct the school system, there was no shortage of battles to fight, controversies to explain or adversaries to win over or defeat. Walcott did it all, with unflinching allegiance.
Then, on April 7, 2011, with a fist bump, the mayor rewarded that loyalty, making Dennis Walcott schools chancellor. After three brief but difficult months under Cathie Black, the Department of Education staff erupted in applause.
Walcott immediately seemed like a different type of chancellor: more educator, less businessman, from a family tied to Queens public schools, not uptown private schools. He walked his grandson to school, made waffles, danced, did yoga and ran around with students.
The change, though, was in style, not policy. Walcott was the mayor's man, and that meant closing schools, supporting charter schools, and generally not cooperating with the unions.
On Friday, though, Walcott focused on his ties to the system. He dropped his grandsons off at P.S. 36.
"He drived his car a little bit, and then he picked us up to the school," one of his grandsons said.
Then, he teared up when his high school, Francis Lewis, said that they'd named their college and career center in his honor.
And Walcott stopped by to see his daughter, a gym teacher at Queens Metropolitan High School, showing off his goofy side one last time by losing to her in a race.
"It was sprinting," Dejeanne Walcott said. "I sprint, he marathons."
After this marathon, Walcott said he plans to take at least a brief break.