In a Class of Her Own

Sheila Harrity is in a class of her own. Last week Harrity, who received her Doctor of Education degree from Northeastern University College of Professional Studies (CPS), was awarded one of the most prestigious awards in education, the Principal of the Year Award, for her role at Worcester Technical High School (WTHS). This was the first time a Massachusetts principal received the award in its 20 year history.  And to add to this achievement, WTHS was named a Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education.

Previously one of the state’s lowest performing schools, WTHS struggled to combine vocational work with traditional academics. “The school had the potential, they just didn’t activate it,” Harrity told Education Nation. With the education and experience she gained while studying at CPS, Harrity overhauled the existing curriculum at the high school. In fact, the case study Harrity wrote as a CPS student, which moved to implement science, technology, engineering, and math into the previously-existing vocational offerings, was incorporated into the school’s curriculum in 2013.

Clearly, Harrity has transformed the school, which now boasts skyrocketing MCAS scores and low failure rates, which dip significantly below the citywide average. “We can empower our students through education and training to have better lives,” Harrity explained at the Education Nation Summit in 2012. “There’s nothing more worth­while than that.”

Her goals also extend beyond the walls of her own school. In an interview with the Worcester Telegram and Gazette , she stated “that she hopes the school will be a model for other districts.”

Harrity’s transformation of the school has received significant national recognition. In addition to representing WTHS at NBC News’ Education Nation Summit, the school was described as one “that’s redefining itself to meet stu­dents’ needs, turning some­thing old into some­thing new” in a segment on “The Today Show.”

She will be honored Sept. 20 during a black-tie gala in Washington, D.C.

The annual “Principal of the Year” award, established by the National Association of Secondary School Principals, honors secondary school administrators who have developed thriving learning experiences for students, and have made significant contributions to the education profession.

Northeastern University’s College of Professional Studies (CPS) is committed to providing career-focused educational programs that are designed to accommodate the complex lives of motivated learners. Offered in a variety of innovative formats, CPS courses are taught by accomplished scholars and practitioners who have real-world experience. The result is an educational experience founded on proven scholarship, strengthened with practical application, and sustained by academic excellence.

Founded in 1898, Northeastern is a comprehensive, global research university. The university offers more than 80 undergraduate majors and more than 165 graduate programs, ranging from professional master’s degrees to interdisciplinary PhD programs. Northeastern’s research enterprise is aligned with three national imperatives: health, security and sustainability. Northeastern students participate in co-op and other forms of experiential learning in 90 countries on all seven continents.