Student Research

Sheila Harrity

Sheila Harrity screenshot

Former Northeastern student and high school principal Sheila Harrity used her research in the EdD program to propel one of Massachusetts’ lowest-performing schools onto a list of the top 10 breakthroughs in the nation.

As a doctoral student, Harrity wrote a proposal to incorporate science, technology, engineering, and math into the school’s technical programs, and her dissertation project is a case study of the transformation.

Harrity redefined the curriculum of Worcester Technical High School to alternate between one week of technical training in a student’s chosen field and one week of academic courses.

The structure helps students explore their interests and graduate into the world of work with a diploma as well as industry-specific skills and certifications. It also helped improve performance overall:

Between 2006 and 2010

  • Graduation rate increased to 96%
  • Math scores climbed from 4% to 78%
  • English language arts scores rose from 27% to 70 %
  • 77% of the 1400 students go on to college

A native of Worcester and alumna of its public school system, Harrity said she felt compelled to help to the community and this school, which deals with high rates of poverty.

“We can empower our students through education and training to have better lives,” said Harrity. “There’s nothing more worthwhile than that.”

Harrity’s efforts at Worcester Technical High School have been covered by the Today show, and she participated in a panel discussion with the president of the National Education Association at NBC News’ Education Nation Summit in 2012.

Watch the Today show interview
Read more about her participation in the summit
See the case study on

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