Principal's Corner


Dr. Nicholas J. Spera



Dr. Nicholas J. Spera is the founding principal of the Marine Science Magnet High School. Now entering his fifth year as the leader of MSMHS, he has led and supported the development of a rigorous and innovative curricula with a safe and nurturing culture and climate that has resulted in his students being ranked top 10 in the state for the past four years for academic achievement. In 2016, MSMHS was ranked the 9th most challenging high school in Connecticut by the Washington Post and received a Silver Medal by US News & World Report.

Dr. Spera was the recipient of the 2012-2013 William Cielukowski First-Year Principal of the Year Award from the Connecticut Association of Schools. In addition to being named and receiving Connecticut's Top "40 Under 40" Award, Dr. Spera has led the Marine Science Magnet High School to consecutive Connecticut State Department of Education School of Distinction Awards for Overall Performance in 2013 and 2014. In May 2014, the MSMHS Parent Teacher Organization will honor Dr. Spera with the Anchor Award for his commitment to the entire MSMHS community. In April 2015, the University of Connecticut awarded Dr. Spera with the Principal of the Year Award for his Early College Experience Program support and advocacy. In 2016, Dr. Spera was named the Northeast Magnet Schools of America School Principal of the Year and was a national finalist for the National Magnet School of America Principal of the Year. 

Over the past two years, Dr. Spera's alma maters have honored him for his excellence in educational leadership and promoting the core values found in each of the universities. In 2015, Sacred Heart University awarded Dr. Spera with the Isabelle Farrington College of Education Alumni Leadership Award. Moreover, Johnson and Wales University recognized Dr. Spera at the 2016 Commencement Ceremony for Graduate Studies and represented the JWU Alumni Association with a motivating speech to all of the graduates and families in attendance. 

Dr. Spera came to MSMHS from the nationally recognized Guilford High School where he was a school administrator and was instrumental in the development of the district's SRBI procedures and policies as the SRBI District Co-Chairperson. Dr. Spera has been in the education field since 2001 after receiving his Bachelor of Science degree from Siena College in Loudonville, NY and playing professional baseball in the United States and Italy. Upon entering the education field as a 6th grade mathematics teacher, Dr. Spera completed his Master of Arts in Teaching in 2002 and his Sixth Year Certificate for Advanced Studies in Administration in 2003 from Sacred Heart University. Dr. Spera completed his Doctorate in the field of Leadership in Elementary/Secondary Education in July 2009 from Johnson and Wales University in Providence, RI. His experience as a mathematics teacher, School to Career Coordinator, Dean of Students, Assistant Principal, and Central Office Administrator, bring a wide range of knowledge and expertise to the region and LEARN.

Dr. Spera joined MSMHS with an educational philosophy based upon the importance of motivating all students to succeed to their highest abilities while providing each student with an engaging, perse and rigorous academic learning environment that promotes and prepares each student for productive roles incorporating critical 21st century life skills. He believes strongly that Effort Creates Ability and that All Students Can Succeed. Dr. Spera's boundless enthusiasm and passion has not changed since MSMHS opened for the first time in 2011 when he stated, "Words cannot express the excitement that I have about the opportunity to lead MSMHS. I am confident that with the education, leadership experience, and knowledge that I have possessed over the years, I will help make the Marine Science Magnet High School a great place to learn, grow, and work."

Dr. Spera is an enthusiastic sports fan who played professional baseball in the United States and Italy. He lives in southeastern Connecticut with his wife Debbie, a school psychologist at Norwich Free Academy, their sons Rocco and Nico, and their dog Jeter.



Johnson and Wales University , Providence, RI 2009
Doctor of Education in Education Leadership (Ed.D.)

Sacred Heart University , Fairfield, CT 2003
Sixth Year in Certification in Advanced Study in Administration

Sacred Heart University , Fairfield, CT 2 002
Masters in Arts of Teaching

Siena College , Loudonville , NY ,   2000
Bachelor of Science Degree in Marketing/Management and Distributive Education



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