Brenda Cassellius, who served as Minnesota's commissioner of education for eight years, said on Boston Public Radio Wednesday that this experience sets her apart as she begins a new role — superintendent of Boston Public Schools. Cassellius' first day on the job was July 1.

"I'm not your typical superintendent ... I've been an executive and am very familiar with the statehouse, very familiar with legislating, very familiar with policy and budgets, and it doesn't scare me to work with a mayor because it is absolutely essential," she said. "That's one of the reasons I chose Boston actually, because of the ability to partner and work with the mayor, the cabinet and the school committee to leverage every single resource with our children."

Cassellius has stated that her goals include improving parent and community engagement, increasing the rigor of neighborhood schools so that BPS schools become "parents' first choice," and significantly closing the achievement gap.

Latino children are the largest racial-ethnic group in Boston Public Schools, but as WGBH News recently reported, their families are barely heard in school decisions.

Cassellius doesn't begin her tenure in Boston without controversy, including the fact that the pool of students accepted to the city's exam schools has gotten whiter, and the district largely has not met MassCore standards.

"One of my goals coming in, and the vision I have, is some real deep work in our high schools to look at high quality program across all schools, ... and I think when we engage with parents this fall, that will become evident," said Cassellius. "You have to have standards, and you have to have strong requirements for students, so that they know what is going to be expected."

In June, Mayor Marty Walsh said he wouldn't appoint another education chief to his cabinet, and Cassellius told Boston Public Radio that move gave her confidence that she has support in City Hall.

"I think the mayor not having the education position in his cabinet, in his office, is probably a sign that he's confident in my capabilities to run the school district and to work with him and his entire cabinet," she said.