The new Alexandria school superintendent told school employes yesterday "you'll see a lot of me," and said he plans to spend one day a week visiting classrooms.

"I want to know what kind of kids you're dealing with, what you're trying to do, spend some time talking to you," Paul Masem said at a meeting kicking off the school year, which begins officially Sept. 8.

The assembly, held in the auditorium of T.C. Williams High School, was the first chance many of the more than 1,000 teachers, counselors and other school system employes had to hear their new boss.

Masem took over last month as head of Alexandria's 9,600-student school system, succeeding Robert W. Peebles, who retired in the spring for health reasons. The post pays $83,000 a year.

Masem comes to the Alexandria schools after stints as superintendent of schools in Ames, Iowa, and Little Rock, Ark., where his tenure was cut short because of hostile public reaction to his aggressive integration efforts.

Masem and school officials agree that minority achievement in Alexandria's schools is a concern. Black students account for nearly half the school enrollment and with Hispanics and Asians form a majority of the students. Test scores show a significant academic gap between black students and white students.

"These populations are our future," Masem said, alluding to the schools system's diverse racial mix.

"I don't think we're in the position in the schools to {say} that people who come to us can't learn or that circumstances they come from prohibit their ability to succeed."

School employes said they were impressed with Masem.

"He seems to be interested in finding out what's going on in the school system," said Sandra F. Merrill, a business teacher at T.C. Williams.

Francenia E. Beech, a counselor at George Washington Junior High, said she had been impressed with stories about Masem's advocacy of black achievement in Little Rock.

"I think things can be improved here," she said. "He put himself on the line. We need someone like that. I'm very optimistic."