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Owen Kiernan was born on March 9, 1914, in Randolph, Massachusetts. Kiernan graduated from Bridgewater State University in 1935 (known then as Bridgewater State Teachers College) and went on to get his masters at Boston University and his Doctorate at Harvard. Kiernan participated in baseball and basketball while at Bridgewater State and was inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 1989. After graduating from Bridgewater State in 1935, Kiernan kept a strong connection to the school for the rest of his life.
Kiernan became the Massachusetts Commissioner of Education in 1957. He would stay in that role until 1969. During these years he worked on a range of educational committees and from 1966-67 he was the president of the Washington based Council of Chief State School Officers representing the ranking education officials in the 50 states and U.S. territories. In 1964 he returned to his Alma mater as the state’s senior education official to deliver the convocation address to the students.
In 1969 Kiernan became the Executive Director of the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), a position he would remain in until 1980. During four of these years he was chairman of the Atlantic Treaty Education Committee (NATO countries) and the Atlantic Information Center for Teachers in London. After leading NASSP with its 40,000 members for eleven years, he would stay in education as an educational consultant in Washington, D.C. After serving for 50 years in education, Kiernan retired. He served as an educational advisor for seven presidents of the United States from Eisenhower to the Reagan administration.
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