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Leading in Central MA: Ricci W. Hall, Principal Claremont Academy

Monday, February 17, 2014

 

Ricci W. Hall is the Principal of Claremont Academy in Worcester. He graduated from Clark University with a BA in history. He went on to get a Masters from Clark and a Master of Education from Worcester State University in Educational Leadership and Administration as well as History. From 1998 - 2006, Hall served as a history teacher at University Park Campus School, then became coordinator taking over as principal in 2009. Three years later, he took over the reins of Claremont Academy.

A Conversation with Ricci W. Hall

SW: What led you to administration from academics?

RH: I had a lot of opportunities to take on and practice leadership skills. I really liked being involved in professional development and all aspects of running a school. It is a great way to help urban kids and to impact student achievement.

SW: What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?

RH: Definitely the day to day interaction with the students and the teachers. No day is ever the same but I love what I do. Every single day is a learning experience and a chance to relate in a powerful way.

SW: What is the most challenging aspect of being a school principal?

RH: The state and federal requirements can sometimes derail me from the things that make a school a human organization. I spend so much time complying with regulations rather than helping students and teachers develop. You can easily get mired in it. I love that schools are beautifully complex human organizations.

SW: What work are you the most proud of?

RH: Helping urban kids to become college material. We help underrepresented kids to both find their way to college and then to be successful once they arrive. I can’t declare that we are where we want to be but we work on it every day.

SW: Who or what has had the greatest influence on your life?

RH: My parents had the greatest influence on my life as they instilled a love of and a value in education from the beginning. I also had some exceptional professional influences at Clark’s education department during my time there. Last but not least, the great teachers that I have been privileged to work with.

SW: Your favorite quote?

RH: In a “League of Our Own”, Tom Hanks makes a great statement. He says, “It is supposed to be hard. It is the hard that makes it great.” I believe that working hard causes us to become better people.

SW: What is the something that few p eo p le know about you?

RH: I work as a volunteer Little League umpire. I really enjoy umpiring and officiating baseball.

SW: How do you spend your free time?

RH: My wife and I like to go out and ride our motorcycle. We took a course together and fell in love with it. We roll out at least once a week in the good weather . It is the most relaxing thing that we do. It is just so freeing.

SW: How do you define success?

RH: To me, it is making incremental growth and improvement in your personal and professional life. It is also learning to be happy with and find meaning in the journey. It is hard to appreciate each moment on the way especially when you are a school principal embroiled in turn around work. That is where living up to the challenge of having it hard can also make it great. There is a lot of frustration but the growth opportunities are unique.

SW: What advice would you have for urban kids to help them to be successful?

RH: I would like them to advise them to realize how important it is to see the value in the work ahead. Focus less on the immediate and see a longer range view.

SW: What is on the drawing board for 2014?

RH: We are involved with developing relationships with colleges and community organizations. We want to up the game for our students in terms of rigor and challenges and increase their readiness for college.

 

GoLocalWorcester presents Leading in Central Ma, a weekly profile of an outstanding community or business leader. Join us every Monday for an inspiring look at the careers and lifestyles of Central Massachusetts’s most influential citizens.If you have suggestions for a profile, please email [email protected].

Susan D. Wagner is president of Susan Wagner PR, a boutique public relations firm invested in meeting client's goals with integrity and creativity.

 

Related Slideshow: Central Mass Schools with the Highest Graduation Rates

Glossary

Non-grad completers: Students that have successfully completed school according to local requirements, but whose MCAS test scores (scores lower than 220) prevent them from receiving an official diploma.

Students in cohort: Number of students eligible to graduate in 2013.

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41. Webster

Graduation rate: 69.7%

Dropout rate: 14.8%

Percent still in school: 7.7%

Percent non-grad completers: 0%

Number of students in cohort: 142

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40. Southbridge

Graduation rate: 70.6%

Dropout rate: 16.8%

Percent still in school: 4.2%

Percent non-grad completers: 0%

Number of students in cohort: 119

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39. Fitchburg (Tie)

Graduation rate: 71.6%

Dropout rate: 14%

Percent still in school: 9.6%

Percent non-grad completers: 1.8%

Number of students in cohort: 450

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38. Gardner (Tie)

Graduation rate: 71.6%

Dropout rate: 10.6%

Percent still in school: 14.9%

Percent non-grad completers: 1%

Number of students in cohort: 208

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37. Ralph C. Mahar

Graduation rate: 72.4%

Dropout rate: 13.2%

Percent still in school: 8.6%

Percent non-grad completers: 0%

Number of students in cohort: 174

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36. Worcester

Graduation rate: 73.4%

Dropout rate: 11%

Percent still in school: 11.3%

Percent non-grad completers: 1.3%

Number of students in cohort: 1,885

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35. Athol-Royalston

Graduation rate: 77%

Dropout rate: 12%

Percent still in school: 5%

Percent non-grad completers: 0%

Number of students in cohort: 100

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34. Oxford

Graduation rate: 78.5%

Dropout rate: 10.4%

Percent still in school: 7.6%

Percent non-grad completers: 1.4%

Number of students in cohort: 144

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33. Quaboag

Graduation rate: 78.8%

Dropout rate: 9.6%

Percent still in school: 7.7%

Percent non-grad completers: 0%

Number of students in cohort: 104

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32. Northbridge

Graduation rate: 83.8%

Dropout rate: 5.6%

Percent still in school: 5%

Percent non-grad completers: 0.6%

Number of students in cohort: 179

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31. Berlin-Boylston

Graduation rate: 84.1%

Dropout rate: 7.9%

Percent still in school: 6.3%

Percent non-grad completers: 0%

Number of students in cohort: 63

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30. Winchendon

Graduation rate: 84.5%

Dropout rate: 7.2%

Percent still in school: 6.2%

Percent non-grad completers: 1%

Number of students in cohort: 97

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29. North Brookfield

Graduation rate: 84.6%

Dropout rate: 5.1%

Percent still in school: 2.6%

Percent non-grad completers: 0%

Number of students in cohort: 39

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28. Leicester

Graduation rate: 85%

Dropout rate: 5.3%

Percent still in school: 5.3%

Percent non-grad completers: 0%

Number of students in cohort: 133

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27. Douglas

Graduation rate: 85.1%

Dropout rate: 8.9%

Percent still in school: 3%

Percent non-grad completers: 0%

Number of students in cohort: 101

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26. Milford

Graduation rate: 86.5%

Dropout rate: 6.4%

Percent still in school: 5%

Percent non-grad completers: 0.4%

Number of students in cohort: 281

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25. Spencer-East Brookfield

Graduation rate: 87%

Dropout rate: 1.9%

Percent still in school: 5.6%

Percent non-grad completers: 0%

Number of students in cohort: 108

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24. Uxbridge

Graduation rate: 87.8%

Dropout rate: 4.9%

Percent still in school: 4.1%

Percent non-grad completers: 0%

Number of students in cohort: 123

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23. Clinton

Graduation rate: 88.5%

Dropout rate: 2.2%

Percent still in school: 2.9%

Percent non-grad completers: 1.4%

Number of students in cohort: 139

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22. Hudson

Graduation rate: 88.6%

Dropout rate: 5.9%

Percent still in school: 4.1%

Percent non-grad completers: 0%

Number of students in cohort: 220

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21. Quabbin

Graduation rate: 88.7%

Dropout rate: 3.3%

Percent still in school: 5.7%

Percent non-grad completers: 0%

Number of students in cohort: 212

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20. West Boylston

Graduation rate: 89.1%

Dropout rate: 3.1%

Percent still in school: 4.7%

Percent non-grad completers: 0%

Number of students in cohort: 64

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19. Bellingham

Graduation rate: 89.6%

Dropout rate: 4.0%

Percent still in school: 2.9%

Percent non-grad completers: 1.7%

Number of students in cohort: 173

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18. Millbury

Graduation rate: 89.7%

Dropout rate: 4.3%

Percent still in school: 3.4%

Percent non-grad completers: 0%

Number of students in cohort: 116

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17. Leominster

Graduation rate: 89.9%

Dropout rate: 3.8%

Percent still in school: 3.8%

Percent non-grad completers: 1.7%

Number of students in cohort: 477

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16. Blackstone-Millville

Graduation rate: 90.6%

Dropout rate: 5.4%

Percent still in school: 1.3%

Percent non-grad completers: 1.3%

Number of students in cohort: 149

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15. Wachusett

Graduation rate: 91.6%

Dropout rate: 2.5%

Percent still in school: 3.6%

Percent non-grad completers: 0%

Number of students in cohort: 526

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14. Narragansett

Graduation rate: 91.9%

Dropout rate: 4.1%

Percent still in school: 2.4%

Percent non-grad completers: 0.8%

Number of students in cohort: 123

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13. Auburn

Graduation rate: 92.3%

Dropout rate: 4.1%

Percent still in school: 2.6%

Percent non-grad completers: 0%

Number of students in cohort: 196

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12. Grafton

Graduation rate: 92.4%

Dropout rate: 1.8%

Percent still in school: 3.5%

Percent non-grad completers: 0%

Number of students in cohort: 170

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11. Shrewsbury

Graduation rate: 92.8%

Dropout rate: 2.3%

Percent still in school: 2.1%

Percent non-grad completers: 0%

Number of students in cohort: 432

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10. Tantasqua

Graduation rate: 93.1%

Dropout rate: 1.7%

Percent still in school: 3.4%

Percent non-grad completers: 0.3%

Number of students in cohort: 291

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9. Dudley-Charlton

Graduation rate: 93.6%

Dropout rate: 3%

Percent still in school: 2.6%

Percent non-grad completers: 0%

Number of students in cohort: 265

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8. Ashburnham-Westminster

Graduation rate: 93.9%

Dropout rate: 2.4%

Percent still in school: 3%

Percent non-grad completers: 0%

Number of students in cohort: 165

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7. Lunenburg

Graduation rate: 94.5%

Dropout rate: 0.8%

Percent still in school: 2.3%

Percent non-grad completers: 0%

Number of students in cohort: 128

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6. Nashoba

Graduation rate: 94.7%

Dropout rate: 1.2%

Percent still in school: 2.4%

Percent non-grad completers: 0%

Number of students in cohort: 247

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5. Mendon-Upton

Graduation rate: 95.2%

Dropout rate: 0.5%

Percent still in school: 3.2%

Percent non-grad completers: 0%

Number of students in cohort: 189

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4. Hopedale

Graduation rate: 95.5%

Dropout rate: 1.1%

Percent still in school: 2.2%

Percent non-grad completers: 0%

Number of students in cohort: 89

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3. Westborough

Graduation rate: 96.2%

Dropout rate: 0.8%

Percent still in school: 1.9%

Percent non-grad completers: 0.8%

Number of students in cohort: 265

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2. Northborough-Southborough

Graduation rate: 97.3%

Dropout rate: 0.3%

Percent still in school: 2.2%

Percent non-grad completers: 0.3%

Number of students in cohort: 364

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1. Harvard

Graduation rate: 97.4%

Dropout rate: 0.9%

Percent still in school: 1.7%

Percent non-grad completers: 0%

Number of students in cohort: 117

 
 

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