Waterbury Public Schools and Harvard University Team Up to Refine the School Turnaround Plan

Waterbury Public Schools and Harvard University Team Up to Refine the School Turnaround Plan
Waterbury Public School Staff Participate in a 3-Day School Turnaround Leadership Institute

WATERBURY- Waterbury Public Schools is participating in a 3-day School Turnaround Leadership Institute led by Harvard University beginning October 19 - 21, 2022. This exclusive program will take place at North End Middle School with 50 staff members in attendance, composed of administrative leaders, teachers and central office staff. 


The Commissioner’s Network, established by the Connecticut General Statutes (C.G.S.) Section 10-223h (2016), represents a commitment between local stakeholders and the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) to dramatically improve student achievement in 25 low-performing schools. The Network offers new resources and empowers teachers and school leaders to implement research-based strategies in schools selected by the Commissioner as ‘turnaround schools’. Waterbury has four turnaround schools listed under the Commissioner’s Network: North End Middle School, Wallace Middle School, West Side Middle School, and Wilby High School. 


The Harvard University School Turnaround Leadership Institute provides district leadership teams the opportunity to develop or refine their districts’ improvement or school turnaround plan to ensure improved academic performance. During the three-day institute, WPS leaders and staff from throughout the Waterbury schools will work with Harvard University leaders to analyze and refine the district’s school improvement plan and develop skills needed for a successful implementation. Schools participating in the School Turnaround Leadership Institute include: Bucks Hill Elementary, Crosby High School, F.J. Kingsbury Elementary, Gilmartin Elementary, John F. Kennedy High School, Reed Elementary and Walsh Elementary school. 


“Strong school and district leaders represent the most significant influencers of academic achievement and supportive culture,” said Dr. Verna D. Ruffin, Waterbury Public Schools Superintendent. “In 2019, staff attended this program in Cambridge, Massachusetts and reported their Harvard experience as the best professional development they have ever experienced. What makes this year different from 2019 is this is a premier program and the Harvard leadership will be in Waterbury working with our staff exclusively.”


“School turnaround efforts demand highly effective leaders, leaders who drive fundamental shifts in school culture and instructional practice,” says Dr. Catherine Gardner, Director of The Principals’ Center at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. “We’re proud to partner with so many deeply committed leaders at Waterbury Public Schools.”


The three day institute is funded under the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund/American Rescue Plan, a federal program administered by the Department of Education in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. K-12 institutions may use ESSER funding to address pandemic learning loss and invest in infrastructure and programs to open and operate safely. 


“I am excited to participate alongside so many talented Waterbury Public Schools staff in Harvard’s School Turnaround Leadership Institute,” said Matt Brown, WPS Chief Turnaround Officer. “This exclusive program will allow us to better understand our school improvement challenges and opportunities while we work collaboratively with knowledgeable practitioners and scholars from Harvard University. The insights we will obtain from this program will assist district and school level decision makers in creating policies and practices that ignite change and impact on some of our most vulnerable students.”

About Waterbury Public Schools
Waterbury Public Schools offer a comprehensive educational program to over 18,000 students in grades Pre-K through 12. This program includes core academics, fine and applied arts, health and fitness, and career pathway offerings as well as special education, an alternative high school, and several enrichment programs. Waterbury Public Schools mission is to inspire and prepare every student to be successful in and beyond school. Learn more at www.waterbury.k12.ct.us.



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Waterbury Public Schools
236 Grand Street
Waterbury, CT 06702
Phone: (203) 574-8000

Fax: (203) 574-8010