MSMHS Principal Awarded

MSMHS Principal Awarded MSA Magnet Principal of the Year
Here at LEARN, we are all about proud moments that come from our schools. Graduations, big wins in competitions and overall student success are achievements that are celebrated regularly. Today, we celebrate no differently.

It is with great honor to announce that Dr. Nicholas Spera, Principal at the Marine Science Magnet High School or the “Fish School” as he likes to call it, has been awarded with the Region I Magnet Schools of America (MSA) Magnet Principal of the Year award on Thursday.

The award is given by Magnet Schools of America and picks one Principal in the Northeast region from grades K-12 that is recognized as an outstanding school leader who has succeeded in providing innovative programs that promote equity, diversity and academic excellence for students in Magnet Schools.

Dr. Spera certainly fits that criteria. Over the last four years, MSMHS has consistently finished top 10 in the statewide CAPT testing. They are always among the top 10 in the state for overall test scores including finishing 2nd in the state on the ELA. The school has won the CT Schools of Distinction Award 2 years in a row (2013, 2014).

“This award is about the tremendous students that we have, their parents unwavering support and our teachers that believe that all students can succeed,” said Spera.

Spera is also no stranger to awards. He has been recognized with the William Cieslukowski Outstanding First Year Principal Award in 2013 by the CT Association of Schools. Last year her was honored by the University of Connecticut as the Principal of the Year for his program support and advocacy in the Early College Experience program. This fall he won the Alumni of the Year award from Sacred Heart University that underscores his recognition by the field of education.

Dr. Eileen Howley, Director of LEARN in her recommendation letter to MSA for Spera said, “Nick has demonstrated a track record of providing leadership and promoting equity and diversity among students and staff, providing leadership towards academic success for all students, leadership in supporting the implementation and sustaining of an innovative magnet program, and evidence within the district and the broader magnet community.”

Spera has been with MSMHS since day one, it has been his school. And if you happen to have seen the school from the outside, or have been lucky enough to come inside, it is impressive on every level. From the massive drawbridge like entrance, to the fish tanks that hold many fish for students to study, to the classroom with six boat simulators set up for students to use, Spera has developed this school into a marine science sanctuary.

Significant partnerships have been formed with key local resources through Spera, including the United States Coast Guard Academy, the University of Connecticut and its Avery Point campus and the State University of New York Maritime College. He has cultivated opportunities for his students to learn through each engagement. He has turned his magnet school into a magnet resource for the region in Southeastern CT.

“What resonates with me is that we put so much effort into building this school. When we hired Nick, we knew he was the right person to implement his vision of education in the region,” said Doreen Marvin, President of MSA and former Director of Development at LEARN. “LEARN has been involved in magnet schools for 25 years with a strong national presence. We knew this school would be destined for greatness when Nick came aboard.”

Spera will head down to Miami for the MSA 2016 National Conference on Magnet Schools in May as one of eight Principals around the country who have won their region. One national winner will be announced after a vote.
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