To inspire students, principal goes a little gaga

Roger Clap students beat their reading goal, so Principal Justin Vernon dressed as Lady Gaga.


Roger Clap students beat their reading goal, so Principal Justin Vernon dressed as Lady Gaga.

Here’s what success looked like Tuesday for the Roger Clap Innovation School: a proud principal, a flamboyant pop diva, and a dairy cow named Moxie.

Principal Justin Vernon made good on a pledge to channel Lady Gaga and milk a cow, if students at the Dorchester school read 10,000 books by the end of the term.


The students surpassed their goal by 3,000 books. So Tuesday, to cheers and laughter, Vernon showed up at Moakley Field clad in a black cocktail dress, long blond wig, high heels, and a tiara.

And after a bit of effort by a crouching Vernon, Moxie upheld her end of the bargain.

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“I can’t tell you how proud of you I am,” Vernon, dressed as the pop star, told students. “And I think I make for a pretty good Lady Gaga.”

Amid the squeals of classmates, fifth-grader Margaret Gould said: “We were very excited to see our principal dress up, and we’re really impressed that he did it.”

The event, which coincided with the school’s field day, illustrated the school’s creative approach to motivating students, school officials said. It was spared from closing in 2010 and reopened in September as the city’s first innovation school, allow­ing it greater flexibility in curriculum, staffing, budget, schedules, and district policies.


“This is absolutely fantastic,” said Joseph Shea, ­academic superintendent for Boston’s elementary schools, who was on hand Tuesday. “In my 40-plus years, I’ve never seen anything like it.”

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