Norwood, MA — The New England Secondary School Consortium’s (NESSC) Champion Awards honor the unique contributions of New England leaders working to raise graduation rates, lower dropout rates, and send more students on to college and postsecondary-certification programs. The five 2019 award recipients were recognized for their extraordinary commitment to ensuring that public school students across New England have a chance to succeed, live a fulfilled and meaningful life, and make a positive contribution to the world.
The New England Secondary School Consortium’s 2019 state Champion Award winners:
- Connecticut State Champion: Dr. Salvatore Menzo, Superintendent, Wallingford Public School District
- Massachusetts State Champion: Lourenço P. Garcia, Ed.D., Executive Director of Data and Accountability, Revere Public Schools
- New Hampshire State Champion: Michael Berry, Principal, White Mountains Regional High School
- Rhode Island State Champion: EduLeaders of Color R.I.
- Vermont State Champion: Tarrant Institute for Innovative Education
“This year’s Champions are invaluable leaders in the regional effort to ensure equity and opportunity for all New England students,” said David Ruff, executive director of the Great Schools Partnership – the lead coordinating organization of the New England Secondary School Consortium. “Through their exemplary leadership and steadfast commitment to improving New England’s public schools, each of these Champions embodies the core mission of the NESSC—to close achievement gaps, to provide learning that is student-centered, and to prepare all students for college, career, and citizenship.”
The awards will be given out on Monday, March 25, at the annual School Redesign in Action conference, which is hosted by the New England Secondary School Consortium in collaboration with the departments and agencies of education in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Now in its tenth year, the conference attracted hundreds of educators, students, policy makers, and community members from across the U.S. Conference participants had the opportunity to choose from over sixty unique presentations led by teachers, students, and community leaders. All presenters have made significant progress increasing student achievement and engagement, graduation rates, college-enrollment numbers, or other indicators of educational success.
The New England Secondary School Consortium is a regional partnership working to advance forward-thinking innovations in secondary education that will empower the next generation of citizens, workers, and leaders. The goal is to ensure that every public high school student receives an education that prepares them for success in the colleges, careers, and communities of the 21st century. The NESSC is funded by the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, the largest philanthropy in New England focused exclusively on education, and coordinated by the Great Schools Partnership, a nonprofit educational-support organization in Portland, Maine.
About the Award Winners
Connecticut State Champion: Dr. Salvatore Menzo
Dr. Salvatore Menzo completed his undergraduate degree at Connecticut College and the University of Sydney. He started his career in 1993 as an eighth-grade language arts teacher in Willimantic, Connecticut.
After completing his Masters in Curriculum and his 6th year in Administration in 1998 at the University of Connecticut, Dr. Menzo was appointed assistant principal and then principal at Silas Deane Middle School in Wethersfield, Connecticut.
In 2005, Dr. Menzo was appointed Superintendent of the Marlborough Public School District in Connecticut. There with staff, he helped students realize the highest achievement levels and statewide distinction.
In 2008, Dr. Menzo received his Doctorate from the University of Connecticut. His research was conducted in Baltimore County Maryland on the topic of parental engagement and its impact on student achievement. Dr. Menzo not only defended his dissertation at the University of Connecticut, but also presented it to faculties in Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan and Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
In 2009, Dr. Menzo was appointed Superintendent in Wallingford, Connecticut. Since then, he has facilitated the development of a strategic plan that has allowed the district to navigate through challenging financial times while increasing student programming in the arts, world language, and athletics. Dr. Menzo is committed to engaging community and staff in the development of a mastery-based learning approach for all students. He has fostered leadership opportunities for staff at all levels. Dr. Menzo values community partnerships and possesses a passion for improving learning opportunities for students, staff, and parents.
Massachusetts State Champion: Lourenço P. Garcia, Ed.D.
Lourenço P. Garcia, Ed.D., is an award-winning and nationally-recognized principal with more than twenty-three years of teaching, research, leadership, and consultancy experience. He completed his undergraduate and postgraduate studies in Russia, Cape Verde, and the United States and received his master’s degree in applied linguistics and doctorate in urban education, leadership, and policy studies from the University of Massachusetts Boston. Dr. Garcia joined Revere Public Schools as its high school principal in 2010. Previous assignments include principal of Woonsocket High School and assistant of principal of William E. Tolman Senior High School (RI), social studies teacher at Brockton High School, and geography teacher at Domingos Ramos High School (Praia, Cape Verde). Dr. Garcia, a polyglot, is also fluent in Cape Verdean, Portuguese, English, Spanish, Russian, and French.
Throughout his tenure with Revere Public Schools, Dr. Garcia led Revere High School through profound transformative innovations leveraging on student agency, personalized learning, teacher leadership capacity, organizational structural changes, and educational technology to promote student learning. Under his leadership, the school won various prestigious awards, including the Schools of Opportunity National Award (Gold Medal, 2016) and the Best Urban School in America (Gold Medal, 2014). He is credited with bringing student-centered learning to Revere Public Schools and developing and aligning systems and processes to implement the model effectively.
Currently, Dr. Garcia is a member of the Superintendent’s Cabinet and the Executive Director of Data and Accountability for Revere Public Schools. In his new role, he works with principals, directors, coaches, school improvement teams, and other school-based teams using different approaches to data, including school accountability, early warning indicator system, and other learning metrics and measurement to increase student achievement.
New Hampshire State Champion: Michael Berry
Michael Berry is the principal at White Mountains Regional High School (WMRHS). He joined WMRHS in 2009 as the Assistant Principal/Athletic Director. In July of 2012, he was named Principal. Prior to relocating to Northern New Hampshire, he lived in Newnan, Georgia, where he taught and coached at Northgate High School. While at Northgate, he taught AP US history and American Studies and coached varsity soccer and varsity football.
Mr. Berry attended St. Joseph’s College in Rutland, Vermont, earning BA in History and Secondary Education with a minor in English. He earned a MA in Educational Leadership from West Georgia University in Carrollton, Georgia. Presently he is a member of the Granite State Leadership Academy and enrolled at Southern New Hampshire University working on a degree to become a Superintendent.
Rhode Island State Champion: EduLeaders of Color R.I.
EduLeaders of Color R.I. was established in 2016 in response to research studies demonstrating a lack of racial and ethnic diversity in the teaching profession nationally. Co-founders Karla E. Vigil and Carlon Howard set out to create a space where educators and leaders of color could discuss relevant issues and brainstorm innovative solutions to systemic problems. They hosted the first meetup in November 2016 with personal colleagues and friends in the community and sought to address some of the many inequities in education facing historically underserved communities:
- Lack of racial and ethnic diversity in schools and organizations
- Minimal training for teachers on culturally responsive teaching practices
- Lack of support in the retention efforts for teachers and leaders of color
Over time, the meetups evolved and grew to be a place where individuals could share their passions and network with community leaders. Each meetup now features almost sixty attendees and has welcomed educators, administrators, elected officials, thought leaders, and nonprofit and for-profit professionals all committed to improving the quality of education for our most underserved youth. EduLeaders of Color RI’s mission is to create systemic change in education by cultivating spaces for leaders of color invested in dismantling inequities, strengthening organizations led by people of color, and fostering community partnerships.
The NESSC is particularly indebted to the leadership of co-founders Karla E. Vigil and Carlon Howard, who will be accepting the award on behalf of EduLeaders of Color Rhode Island.
Vermont State Champion: Tarrant Institute for Innovative Education
The Tarrant Institute for Innovative Education facilitates and showcases examples of effective 21st century learning and edtech ideas for educators. We’re educators and administrators with a passion for edtech and a willingness to innovate. We help educators make the most of emerging technologies to increase student engagement.
As part of the College of Education and Social Services at the University of Vermont, we support the rollout of 1:1 internet-enabled devices to our partnering schools and provide funding for technology innovations within our cohort. We’re helping to move Vermont’s middle schools toward a technology-rich, student-centered outcome.
The NESSC is particularly indebted to the leadership of John Downes, director, and Penny Bishop, principal investigator, who will be accepting the award on behalf of the Tarrant Institute for Innovative Education.