Superintendent Yaw Obeng announced on April 21 that Tracy Racicot had been hired as the permanent principal at Burlington High School. Racicot served as the high school’s interim leader this year. From 2015-2016 she served in the role of director of the Burlington Technical Center.
Prior to moving to Vermont, she was employed by the Rensselaer-Columbia-Greene County Board of Cooperative Educational Services (Questar III) in the Capital Region of New York State since 1999. The Register caught up with Racicot to hear her goals for the future, and what a permanent hire means for the school.
How does having a permanent principal at the high school create stability?
“Evidence and research show that leadership matters in schools. Stable leadership will provide direction and create conditions that will impact student learning.”
Will the ability to conduct your role effectively change as a result of being no longer interim?
“Positively influencing the learning community relies on relationship building. Knowing just who is going to be in that relationship allows for leadership practices that significantly impact the work.”
Will it be easier to establish relationships now that staff know that you won’t be going away next year?
“The staff at BHS are so professional and welcoming already. I look forward to building on the foundation we have built this year. Staff will perhaps be even more willing to engage as a purposeful community is established.”
What has the adjustment from a tech center environment to a high school been like?
“The community involvement in the high school is the largest difference from a tech center to a high school. Tech centers are regional and serve a much larger geographical region. The commitment of families and the community to high schools is much more concentrated.”
What culture and environment do you hope to foster at the high school over the next few years? What plans do you have to create that culture?
“A culture and environment built on a systemic approach to continuous improvement. Supporting teachers to be their best is what we are aiming for at BHS. Providing support for all staff to be the best professionals in the field of education through encouraging collaboration and reflection on practice will be critical to this culture.”
What are your goals for the next few years? What specific improvements would you like to make as principal?
“Building on the work that the staff have invested with Proficiency Based Learning and Grading, Personalized Learning Plans and Building Community through a foundation of Restorative Practices are really big goals. I envision a future where the work that we are doing now will be manifested in exceptional rigorous flexible pathways to graduation. These pathways must be accessible to all of our students at BHS.
How would you describe your leadership style?
“Adjectives are limiting and are often used to describe one’s style. My aim is to support the school in the intentional setting of direction and to influence others to move in those directions. Administration needs to develop and count on contributions from many in the school.”
What would you like parents and students to know about you?
“I am really excited by how people learn! It is the reason why I am so passionate about public education. Everyone learns differently and everyone contributes to this community of learners.”
What would you like the greater Burlington community to know about BHS?
“The Burlington community should know how many of our students genuinely feel welcome and cared for at BHS. When students are asked about what they like most about their experiences here it is often, how the teachers and staff make them feel. We have caring and dedicated professional educators working each day to make school a great experience for all children.”
Editor’s Note: Racicot was not available to meet in person, and responded to the questions via email.