JG Whittier Honored as City’s Most Improved School

J.G. Whittier Middle School in Haverhill (file photograph.)

A notable improvement in standardized test scores and attendance rates earned the J.G. Whittier Middle School the mayor’s Excellence in Education award Monday.

Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini praised faculty, staff and students for the “remarkable progress.”

Principal Brian Gill accepted the award on behalf of the school. Like the mayor, he credited everyone in the school building – and an important group on the outside – for the turnaround.

“I firmly believe that the success JG Whittier has realized is through the collaborative efforts of our staff and our families,” Gill told WHAV. “We have built a unique culture of shared decision-making in all areas of our school community.”

Gill said the focus of the administration and staff is to create a community of students who attend school regularly, are prepared to learn, and feel safe, supported and valued at school.

In a ceremony Monday afternoon in the school’s auditorium, the mayor recognized faculty and staff, Gill, and Superintendent James F. Scully for improved standardized test scores in English language arts, math and science.

Whittier’s academic performance “leapfrogged over approximately 50 other middle schools in the state,” Fiorentini said.

“Many people are responsible for the school's success, but none more than you,” Fiorentini told the students. “You went the extra mile and showed a tolerance for boredom. You studied when it was boring to study, did your homework when it would have been more fun not to, and showed up every day even when it was a chore to do so. This award is for you.”

In the past four years, J.G. Whittier reversed itself from being the school with the highest suspension rates to the lowest in the district, Fiorentini noted.

Gill credited a change in school culture. “The implementation of the Good Citizen and Advisor/Advisee programs give students and staff daily opportunities to work together,” he said.

Under the Good Citizenship Program, students are recognized for the positive behaviors they exhibit rather than highlighting the instances when kids are having bad days or making bad choices.

Every student at J.G. Whitter has an advisor, “which eliminates anonymity for students,” Gill said. “Every student has at least one adult who knows their name and knows something about them, and that’s very powerful.”

J.G. Whittier School is at 256 Concord St. and serves 502 students in fifth through eighth grades.

3 thoughts on “JG Whittier Honored as City’s Most Improved School

  1. Great work folks ! All kids are good. Their surroundings are what either damages them or helps them. Now more than ever kids are at risk and need guidance.

  2. Gail, Joe, Paul and company, no comment?
    Congratulations to the children, faculty, parents and superintendent for a job well done.
    Just the start but good things are happening in this city though you wouldn’t always know it with the in fighting and politics within city hall and the self rightoues groups.