Following last week’s visit to Worcester Technical High School (Worcester, MA), a 2013 National Blue Ribbon School by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, President Obama has announced that he will give the commencement address at the school June 11. Watch local news coverage of the announcement.
Highlights from Secretary Duncan’s visit
During his visit to the school March 12, Secretary Duncan called Worcester Tech as a “world class” school. With a full range of academic and vocational programs, Worcester Tech operates a local bank, beauty salon, auto repair shop, and veterinary clinic for local residents. The Secretary toured the school and took part in a town hall style meeting with students and visiting dignitaries.
Harrity assumed leadership of Worcester Tech in 2006. Although the school occupied a new state-of-the-art building, it was one of the lowest performing schools in Massachusetts. Under Harrity’s leadership, the school effected a dramatic turnaround: student proficiency rates in English and math have risen 61 and 43 percentage points, respectively, to 88% and 78%. The four-year graduation rate, up 17 points, exceeds 96%.
Tapping the expertise of more than 350 industry advisors, Principal Harrity fashioned a vision for Worcester Tech that prepared students to succeed in business, industry, and higher education. Working to improve one academic area at a time, she has increased Advanced Placement courses, expanded technical programs, and fostered dual enrollment opportunities with two-and four-year colleges. More recently, she guided Worcester to become a STEM-focused Innovation School. Worcester Tech earned the MetLife Foundation-NASSP Breakthrough School award in 2011.
Watch a video featuring Principal Harrity.
Worcester Tech’s curriculum features immersive learning through project-based study and real-world application. Students operate a 125-seat restaurant, a salon/ day spa, an automotive center that services 250 vehicles a month, a full-service bank, and a state-approved pre-school. Building trades students built the school’s new “Tufts at Tech” veterinary clinic that provides affordable animal care for low-income families; and have also built a multi-family LEED-certified house for low-income Worcester residents. Through the Environmental Tech program, students provide the city with land maintenance and water testing services. Principal Harrity believes that the school’s success and the city and region’s success are intertwined.