Joe Macary has been superintendent of schools in Vernon, Connecticut since 2015, after serving as superintendent in Wolcott. In May 2016, he worked with the Center to conduct a district coherence audit and, based on those results, decided to partner with the Center for professional learning and to strengthen district performance in three key areas:  building capacity through executive coaching, central office transformation, and family engagement.

Three senior administrators per year received executive coaching which, Macary said, was tailored to each individual and the district’s goals. “The Center has a deep bench,” Macary explained, “and can take any request and match our needs with people from their staff who have the requisite experience and knowledge to step in, determine issues and work through solutions.  Those same capabilities proved incredibly useful when examining communities of practice, and in helping us address steps for central office transformation over the past two years.”

Vernon also received a grant from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving for strengthening family engagement.  Working with the Center, Vernon designed a comprehensive family engagement strategy that utilizes home visits, school visits, and professional learning experiences to raise awareness, promote inclusion, and guide educational parent interaction.

The results, Macary stressed, were very positive, not only for participants but in terms of increases in performance scores. Vernon originally had two focus schools, identified by low academic performance for high needs subgroups of students and a low six-year graduation rate.  With support from the Center, both schools were able to achieve measurable improvements and be removed from the focus list. Other schools also improved overall performance and achieved greatly enhanced ratings in the school accountability index, which functions like a report card for school performance.

“The Center has been able to meet our needs at all levels, helping us transform and move our district forward,” Macary concluded. “Under their guidance, scores have increased, and accountability – as well as morale – have improved. They are always here for us, working collaboratively to strengthen our team, improve communication and ensure best practices.”