Sheila Harrity, 2014 National High School Principal of the Year to deliver Summit luncheon keynote
Oct 08, 2014
Sheila Harrity, the Principal at Worcester Technical High School who was recognized as 2014’s National High School Principal of the Year by the National Association of Secondary School Principals and MetLife, will give the keynote speech at this year’s Massachusetts STEM Summit, themed “Gateway to the Future.” She is the first Massachusetts principal to receive the award in the program's 20-year history and was visited this spring by President Obama, who delivered the commencement address to Worcester Tech’s Class of 2014.
The innovative high school was selected based on the fact that it “has made outstanding headway in boosting its graduation rate, implementing cutting edge vocational programs, and ensuring that all of its students have the opportunity to succeed,” according to a White House official statement.
Harrity, who grew up in Worcester and attended Worcester public schools, took the helm at Worcester Tech in 2006, when it reopened following a $90 million renovation which brought a full-service bank, day spa, bakery, veterinary clinic, restaurant, auto garage and graphics shop to campus, all staffed by the school’s students. The facilities allow Harrity to incorporate the school’s mission of creating a “workforce pipeline,” and she has put them to optimal use by developing the school’s Early Career and College STEM Innovation Plan. By emphasizing the school’s technical focus and gathering more than 350 industry advisors, Harrity’s plan brings together project-based learning, real-world application, and authentic assessment.
“We strive to provide students with a rigorous STEM based education and training to create a college and career pipeline to support STEM industries and college majors,” says Harrity. “The biggest challenge at WTHS has been staying current with 21st Century business and industry expectations and needs.”
Eighty-three percent of the school’s graduates go to college, and the dropout rate is only 1.5 percent, compared to the state’s average of 2.2 percent.
Reflecting on her amazing year of accolades, she says “I have always felt that working at WTHS has been an educator’s dream. We are living proof that collaboration and commitment among students, parents, faculty, business, and higher education partners can transform a low-performing high school into a national model,” adding, “Through our journey, I know there is hope for other struggling schools across the country. They too can turn things around.”