Hill Central Principal Tapped For Adult Ed Post

Melissa Bailey PhotoAfter leading a quiet “turnaround” effort at Hill Central School, Glen Worthy is leaving to take on a bigger challenge.

The school board Monday hired Worthy (pictured) as the new head of the city’s adult education center.

Worthy has been principal of Hill Central for seven years. His assistant principal, Lillian Fontan, will take his place as principal, according to a personnel report the school board approved at its meeting Monday at the Parish Hall of Betsy Ross Arts Magnet School.

Worthy signed up 10 years ago to work as an assistant principal at Hill Central School, a neighborhood school at 140 Dewitt St. He entered a challenging environment: About a third of the 400-plus kids are learning English as a foreign language. And as a neighborhood school, Hill Central hosts an outsized portion of the 1,000 kids who transfer into the school district in the middle of every school year. Worthy spent three years as assistant principal there before assuming the principal post.

In June of 2010, Worthy got the chance to launch a quiet “turnaround” effort financed by a federal School Improvement Grant aimed at overhauling low-performing schools. He took advantage of attrition to replace half of his staff. He rebuilt the school using a “distributive leadership” model, where teachers are empowered to take responsibility in running the school. The effort quickly yielded results: The number of kids scoring “proficient” in reading on state standardized tests climbed from 24 percent in 2008 to over half in 2012.

Worthy also oversaw the school’s relocation to far-away Quinnipiac Avenue, and its return to a $46 million new building in 2012.

Worthy said after 10 years at Hill Central, “it was just time for another challenge.”

The principal, who used to be a guidance counselor, spent two years working at Wilbur Cross before becoming an administrator.

“I want to be with high school students at this point in my life,” he said.

At the Adult Education Center, Worthy will help high school dropouts earn a diploma or a GED. He’ll also oversee English-as-a-foreign language lessons, which the city is mandated to provide for free to any New Haven resident. The center also offers “enrichment” classes for adults who want to keep learning. It serves about 3,000 people per year, according to Worthy.

Worthy said as principal of the center, he will try to make the curriculum more relevant to the modern world, so that students who earn diplomas there can get a job after graduation.

Worthy begins his new job on July 1, replacing Alicia Caraballo (pictured), who is retiring.

He said it was “bittersweet” to leave Hill Central after a decade. When he tried to break the news to staff, he said, he had to leave the room several times to regain his composure.

Superintendent Garth Harries said when it was clear Worthy would be leaving the school, he consulted the School Planning and Management Team of teachers, parents and school staff on whom to choose as a replacement.

Everyone agreed that “there was only one choice—Lillian,” Harries reported.

Harries said Fontan has long shown her leadership potential, and he is glad that the spot opened up at Hill Central before he had to poach her to lead another school.

“We are thrilled to let her lead on her own turf,” Harries said.

Fontan (pictured) has worked beside Worthy as assistant principal throughout his entire seven years as principal. And before that, she worked at the school as a teacher.

In brief remarks before the school board, Fontan said she has been through many school reform experiments, and the one Hill Central chose, with its “distributive leadership” focus, has been by far the most effective.

“I am so, so excited” to take on the new job, Fontan said. “The investment that I feel” in the school “is amazing.”

Worthy and Fontan start their new jobs on July 1. Fontan, who has 36 years of experience and a 6th-year professional diploma education, currently earns $117,688, according to the schools budget. She will earn $136,114 in her new job. Worthy currently makes $134,906; his new salary was not listed in the personnel report.

4 More Vacancies

The district still has four vacancies for principal jobs: at Davis Street School, Barnard Environmental Studies Magnet School, Mauro-Sheriden School, and Edgewood School, according to a memo Harries distributed at Monday’s meeting.

The district is “in the midst of final decision-making” at those schools, according to Harries’ letter. The district has also offered to help find a new leader for Domus Academy, a New Haven public school run by Domus, a Stamford-based social services agency.

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