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Albany High School alumna Cecily Wilson

 named interim principal at her alma mater

 

ALBANY, N.Y. (June 25, 2012) -- Cecily L. Wilson, an Albany High School graduate who returned from an Ivy League education to teach in her hometown, has been named the interim principal at her alma mater, Superintendent Raymond Colucciello, Ed.D., announced Monday.

 

Wilson, a house and academy principal at Albany High for the past two years, succeeds David C. McCalla, Ph.D., who is taking on a new assignment for the City School District of Albany. Dr. McCalla will lead two programs designed to improve graduation rates and college readiness for Albany High students.

 

Wilson (pictured at right at a news conference announcing her appointment) will begin as interim principal July 1. She assumes leadership of the 2,200-student high school at an important time: Albany High completed its first year with its new four-academy structure in 2011-12 to help raise achievement for all students, and the district also is working in partnership with the community to decide on the future of its high school facilities.

 

“Cecily Wilson is an outstanding administrator and leader who has demonstrated that she is committed to improving the lives of every young person in our community,” Dr. Colucciello said. “She is an excellent role model for our students, and I have every confidence that she has the skills and ability to lead our team in the critical work that lies ahead of us at Albany High.”

 

A 1995 Albany High graduate, in 1999 Wilson earned a bachelor’s degree in public policy from Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, where she also earned certificates in teacher preparation and African-American studies. She earned a master’s in early

childhood and elementary education at New York University in 2000, with specialization in language and literacy.

 

She returned to her hometown that year to begin her career in education as a kindergarten teacher at Arbor Hill Elementary School, the school she attended as a child. She also taught third and fourth grade at Arbor Hill Elementary.

 

She earned certificates of advanced study in school district leadership and school building leadership from The College of St. Rose in 2007, and later that year she was named principal at Sheridan Preparatory Academy. She led Sheridan Prep for three years before transferring to Albany High as North House principal in 2010. When Albany High divided its two academic houses into four smaller learning communities, or academies, Wilson became Leadership Academy principal in 2011 (Discovery, Citizenship and Innovation are the other academies).

 

Her vision for the future of Albany High focuses on three primary elements in the district’s ongoing work to close the achievement gap: the use of data to inform new and better strategies for teaching and learning, rigorous coursework for all students and strategies to make school a more inviting and engaging place for students.

 

“I am honored to have this opportunity to lead an outstanding team of administrators, teachers and staff at Albany High School,” Wilson said. “The dedication to improving the lives of every student is on display every day, and I know with that commitment we will be successful in working together to build the type of public high school our entire community deserves.”

 

At Albany High, Wilson organized professional development for teachers and administrators, and also co-chaired the facilities subcommittee of the High School Restructuring Committee. As an elementary principal, she co-chaired the district’s Response to Intervention (RTI) Committee, helping to develop an improved process to identify student needs and provide specific help to raise achievement. She also introduced a team-teaching approach at Sheridan Prep that focused on using data to address students’ individual needs in English-language arts. The model was credited with improving the school’s performance on the state ELA exams.

 

Wilson replaces Dr. McCalla following his move to a special assignment overseeing Albany High’s Smart Scholars Early College High School partnership with Hudson Valley Community College, and the AVID college-prep program. Both are key elements in Albany High’s efforts to provide more support for students in the first and second years of high school, recognized nationally as critical to successful models for turning around low-performing schools.

 

“Dr. McCalla’s ability to build relationships with students, especially students at risk of failure, has made a positive difference in the direction of Albany High School,” Dr. Colucciello said. “He will continue to be a leader in our overall work to ensure success for all students.”

 

Albany High is one of three area schools with the prestigious International Baccalaureate program and is a regional leader in Advanced Placement courses with 18. However, the school’s low graduation rate – 52.3 percent for the Class of 2011 – is among the primary reasons the school has been cited by the State Education Department as being in need of improvement.

 

The mission of the City School District of Albany is to educate and nurture all students to be responsible citizens, critical thinkers and lifelong learners to successfully compete in the global community by providing an academically rigorous and safe environment in partnership with parents, students and the community. The district serves about 8,700 students in 15 elementary, middle and high schools. In addition to neighborhood schools, the district includes several magnet schools and programs, as well as other innovative academic opportunities for students, including four themed academies at Albany High School.

         
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