Whatever preconceptions Anthony Tata brought down with him from Washington, whatever he's learned during his get-acquainted phase - and whatever input he's received from the Wake County school board - Wake's new schools superintendent from here on out will be considering all those things in a different light.
As of his Tuesday swearing-in, the retired Army brigadier general is officially in charge of running North Carolina's largest school system. That means Tata has assumed a heavy responsibility. He must keep faith with the system's 143,000 students, whose hopes stand to be profoundly shaped by their school experiences.
It is their well-being - the well-being of each and every single child - that must be at the core of Tata's call to duty. And he must make the hard decisions he has pledged to make in the spirit of advocacy for those young people.
Tata has landed in the middle of an intense debate over how to decide which schools students will attend. The debate has split the school board that hired him, roiled the community and drawn uncomfortable national attention.
The board's majority members, who plucked Tata from his post as chief operating officer of the District of Columbia schools, place a premium on assigning students close to where they live. Yet that poses the risk of neighborhood schools where most of the students come from lower-income families and where academic success can be harder to achieve.
Tata will not make the final call as to how assignments are shaped. But his recommendations will loom large, as they should, since he'll be responsible for carrying out the approach that's selected and making it work to all students' benefit.
The new superintendent has firmly and correctly backed away from a partisan Republican profile he cultivated in Washington. He says he'll be apolitical and focused solely on the school system he now heads. And he has tackled with enthusiasm the task of learning what makes that system tick.
What makes it tick are thousands of hard-working educators and a community that appreciates schools that have been recognized around the country for their quality. Despite weaknesses that must be addressed, this is a system that has done many things right. It's now Tata's job to lead Wake's schools in a way that keeps their hard-won reputation intact.