District Administration August 2016 - 26

DistrictDialogue By Angela Pascopella Urban renewal in New Haven Superintendent Garth Harries continues transformation in Connecticut W NEW HAVEN PUBLIC SCHOOLS SUPERINTENDENT GARTH HARRIES Students: 21,500 Demographics: 42% black, 41% Hispanic, 14% white, 2% Asian, 1% other Schools: 47 Teachers: 1,800 THINKSTOCK.COM: BERGSERG Budget: $431 million [2016-17] NEW HAVEN 26 August 2016 ithin a few months of becoming superintendent of New Haven Public Schools a couple of years ago, Garth Harries had already attended too many teenagers' funerals. After Harries left these grim ceremonies-and in other occasions when students were shot but survived-his office went back over the victims' academic records for signs of trouble. "There were warning signs-chronic absenteeism in early grades, kids moving between different schools and moving out of district and back in, and transcripts just got progressively worse," he recalls. "They were starting to fall off a cliff." In April 2014, shortly after two teenagers were fatally shot, Harries, Mayor Toni Harp and other civic organizations banded together to figure out how to improve the prospects for at-risk youth. Harp and Harries started a YouthStat program to look for warning signs in attendance, grades, discipline and other data-to catch students before they turn to violence or criminal activity. About 400 students from middle and high school are overseen under YouthStat. Teachers, police, security officers, after-school program providers and urban outreach workers meet to discuss each student's challenges and to make a plan for improvement. YouthStat connected one student- who was struggling in an alternative school-with a mentor who had served in the Afghanistan War after 9/11. The mentor helped the student learn to deal with crises and convinced him to stay in school. The student graduated last year and is now an apprentice in a trade program. "More importantly, he's not on the street and not engaged in violence," Harries says. Who is Harries? Harries is entering his third year leading the city's schools. He works in an office five stories above the city, not far from New Haven Harbor on Long Island Sound, and near the busy I-95 corridor. The walls of the board of education room, which adjoins his office, are peppered with students' colorful drawings and paintings as well as lists of action plans: school visits, surveys for feedback and team building. Harries comes from more a business background than education. A 1995 Yale University graduate, he admits he felt his way around jobs for a few years. He taught in a private school, worked in homeless services, and managed special projects for the Philadelphia Empowerment Zone. He also worked as an engagement manager at McKinsey and Company, a Fortune 500 company. He also went to Stanford Law School in California, and worked for the East Palo Alto Law Clinic, a nonprofit that offers traditional legal services to low-income families. Then he discovered his true love- public education. He had some connections in the New York City mayor's office. In 2000, he was offered the job of project manager for then-New York City Chancellor Joel Klein's Children First Reform movement. Taking the job was "one of the best decisions of my life." "Along the way, I found this passion and calling for work in public education-to try to bring a set of skills and energy for system change and strategic change to provide high quality education in urban environments," Harries says. "If you want to help others and support the world there is nothing more powerful than education." District Administration http://www.THINKSTOCK.COM

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of District Administration August 2016

District Administration August 2016 - Cover1
District Administration August 2016 - Cover2
District Administration August 2016 - 1
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