WORCESTER (CBS) — A local principal has just been named National High School Principal of the Year.

Sheila Harrity is the first Massachusetts principal to be named a national principal of the year in the program’s 20-year history.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Lana Jones reports

Gov. Deval Patrick honored Worcester Tech Principal Harrity in a surprise ceremony Tuesday morning.

Harrity was awarded the title by the National Association of Secondary School Principals, which annually recognizes secondary school principals who have succeeded in providing high-quality learning opportunities for students as well as demonstrating exemplary contributions to the profession.

“Principal Harrity is an inspiration to leaders in education across the state and country,” said Governor Patrick. “She understands that we have a stake in the next generation, and to leave this Commonwealth better than we found it, we must invest in the young minds that are our future. My sincerest congratulations and appreciation go out to Principal Harrity for this deserving honor.”

Harrity became principal of Worcester Tech in 2006, the year the school moved to a new, state-of-the-art facility.

During her seven years at Worcester Tech, Harrity has seen the graduation rate grow by 17 percentage points (from 79.3 percent in 2006 to 96.4 percent in 2012) and the dropout rate fall from 6.5 percent in 2006 to 1.5 percent in 2012.

She will be honored during a black-tie gala on September 20 in Washington, DC, to lead into National Principals Month.

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