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Stratford school named Connecticut’s middle school of the year

Ethan FryMay 20, 2019

STRATFORD — David Wooster Middle School has been named the state’s middle school of the year by the Connecticut Association of Schools.

Principal Bryan Darcy said he was notified of the award May 8 when he was at a conference in Madison, so he sent an email to the school’s staff announcing a mandatory faculty meeting at the end of the day — prompting rumors to swirl.

“People thought I was meeting with them because I was leaving the district or something like that,” Darcy said. “I wanted to be a secret until I could tell them in person.”

When he revealed the award, Darcy said teachers were exuberant.

“Some teachers were in tears because it really meant a lot to us to receive this recognition,” Darcy said. “There have been teachers who have been here for 20 years plus who deserve the recognition for everything they’ve done.”

The school was notified in March that it was a finalist for the award, Darcy said. A committee from the Connecticut Association of Schools visited Stratford in April. The organization’s executive director is scheduled to formally present the award at the May 28 Board of Education meeting, which will be held at Stratford High School.

In a press release, the CAS said “it became obvious throughout the nomination and selection process that Wooster Middle School is providing an exemplary middle school experience to all the students and families within its educational community.”

“The members of the Awards Committee were extremely impressed with the outstanding and thoughtful work accomplished by the Wooster Middle School staff,” the press release said. “From the moment one enters the school, there is a pervasive sense of welcome and positive climate.”

Darcy said he was particularly proud of the school’s peer mediation program started two years ago.

“We train eighth grade students on how to be peer mediators. Then if we have two students who are having some sort of disagreement we have students try to solve the problems together,” Darcy said. “It allows the students to both speak up for themselves and be self-advocates, but it also teaches them to problem-solve.”

The CAS also singled out the school’s Student Ambassador Program, Creative Learning After-School Program, Safe School Climate Committee, and the integration of a health and counseling clinic as worthy of praise.

Darcy said credit for the award should be shared by the whole town.

“We’ve received this award, but everyone deserves recognition for this,” Darcy said. “This is an award for Stratford and the community as well.”

Superintendent Janet Robinson agreed, and said she expects to see some future recognition for Flood Middle School as well.

The superintendent said the award is a credit to the collaborative attitude of the school’s staff, who adapt new programs they see from visiting other schools and from looking at studies.

“It’s really been so much of a team over there,” she said. “The teachers and administrators have been very innovative in the last few years.”

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