Supt. Lusi honored at surprise farewell barbecue

Dr. Lusi with Providence School Board member Phanida Phivilay Bessette.

Dr. Lusi with Providence School Board member Phanida Phivilay Bessette.

From the city’s police chief to the former mayor, from colleagues, union leaders, teachers, staff, parents and students, members of the Providence Public Schools community bid farewell to outgoing Supt. Dr. Susan Lusi at a surprise barbecue held at the Providence Career and Technical Academy cafeteria on Friday, June 26.

In return. Supt. Lusi beamed with gratitude for all those who attended the event, including her family, for their support of her work, of Providence Schools and its students.

“No one group can educate our children alone the way they need to be educated,” Lusi said. “We need to prepare them to move forward and be leaders and decision makers in the world.”

Saying, “I will miss all of your enormously,” Lusi gave special credit to her executive assistant, Karina Luna, whom she called “my right arm and half of my left.”

Superintendent Barbecue 06-2015 (4)

Rebecca Boxx, director of the Providence Children & Youth Cabinet, co-chaired by Dr. Lusi, bids her farewell.

As she was praised for her leadership, guidance, willingness to listen to all levels of the PPSD staff, and for always putting students first, Supt. Lusi was presented with a steady line of gifts, including flowers, a gold watch, a citation from the City Council, a signed photo from the Student Steering Committee that is helping to design the two new high schools, and a crystal bowl engraved with a message that said, “Thank you for your service to Providence Public Schools.”

Supt. Lusi announced her departure on May 1 after a three-year tenure. Under her leadership, graduation rates rose from 65 to71 percent and dropout rates declined from 21 to 14 percent. Fourth grade reading scores rose from 45 to 53 percent and eleventh grade scores from 56 to 61 percent, with the scores for English Language Learners at these two grade levels increasing from 19 to 25 percent and 2 to 15 percent, respectively.

During her tenure, the Providence School Board adopted a new strategic direction policy calling for greater school autonomy. The district has secured a major grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York to establish two new smaller and innovative high schools, and PPSD has strengthened and multiplied partnerships with community organizations and labor unions for the benefit of the children of Providence.

At the barbecue, Supt. Lusi announced that she plans to take the summer off to spend with her family and will be checking in with educators around the country for possible opportunities.