NEW: Worcester Tech’s Harrity Named National Principal of the Year
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Sheila Harrity, principal of Worcester Technical High School, has won the 2014 MetLife/NASSP National Principal of the Year award for her significant contributions to student achievement. She assumed leadership of Worcester Tech in 2006 - the same year the school moved to a new, world-class facility.
This prestigious award is given to five high schools from across the country for outstanding student growth in high-poverty areas. Worcester Tech was the only school selected from New England and the only vocational technical school selected in the country.
Melinda Boone, superintendent of Worcester Public Schools, praises Harrity’s work to create an Innovation School. “Principal Harrity demonstrated her ability to work with administrators, teachers and community members through complex technical and adaptive issues,” Boone states. “Ultimately, the success of the team was dependent upon [her] refined collaborative-leadership skills.”
Harrity will be honored on September 20 during a MetLife/NASSP gala in Washington, DC. The award is accompanied by a $5,000 grant. Winners are required to use the money to improve learning in their schools.
The best academic and vocational technical education
Harrity knew that the school’s previous problems with low performance would not go away without vision and leadership, and she quickly assembled an instructional leadership team. “Research shows you need to empower the staff to be part of the decision making process in order to be successful in the transformation of any school,” she states.
During her seven years at Worcester Tech, Harrity has seen the graduation rate grow by 17 percentage points (from 79.3 percent in 2006 to 96.4 percent in 2012) and the dropout rate fall from 6.5 percent in 2006 to 1.5 percent in 2012. The school's success - particularly in adopting Breaking Ranks reform to raise the academic performance of a high-poverty population - earned it designation as a MetLife Foundation-NASSP Breakthrough School in 2011.
Worcester Tech opened the doors to its new $90-million, 400,000-square-foot campus in the fall of 2006 with 1,100 students. Now in its seventh year of operation, the school has 1,400 students in 24 technical programs. It is the largest of seven public high schools in Worcester. The current demographics of the school consist of: 51 percent, female; 49 percent, male; 65 percent, qualified for free or reduced lunch; 21 percent, special needs. Ethnic backgrounds reflect the city demographics. Worcester Tech has met Adequate Yearly Progress for No Child Left Behind during five out of the past six years. The students exceeded the benchmarks in English, mathematics, and every sub-group.
Worcester Tech heralds its commitment to “providing the best academic and vocational technical education.” In 2006, the school received national recognition by School Planning and Management magazine, rating the facility as "The No. 1 Public Education Facility in the Nation."
Over the past years, Worcester Tech’s s state exam scores rose significantly. In English Language Arts, 77 percent of its students scored in the advanced/proficient categories, an increase of 50 percent, with a 3-pervent failure rate. In math, 74 percent of its students scored in the advanced/proficient categories, an increase of 42 percent, with a 4-percent failure rate. In science, 96 percent of its current 10th- and 11th-grade students passed, with a 4-percent failure rate. Presently, Worcester Tech students have a 95.8-percent four-year-graduation rate, with a 1.1-percent drop-out rate.
Students are prepared for success with a rigorous curriculum that combines academics with hands-on experience, in school and in the workplace, through internships and cooperative education jobs. They graduate with all academic requirements and with industry-recognized national certifications. Worcester Tech notes that its graduates “are graduating college and career ready.” The profile of its 2012 graduates shows that 77 percent went on to higher education, 18 percent went directly into the world of work, and 3 percent joined the military.
As if that’s not enough, this year under Sheila Harrity’s leadership, Worcester Tech is kicking off its new STEM Early Career and College Innovation Plan.
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