Return to In Memoriam

May 5, 1999

Dr. Stenta served as principal of Howard during what could be termed the school's renaissance. During the decade of the 1990's, Howard was transformed from an at-risk inner-city urban school with low enrollment to a vibrant school considered a leader in the use of technology in the classroom. Under his direction, Howard received both state and national recognition for school reform and innovative education initiatives.
His vision for Howard was to become a model urban vocational-technical facility. In the past fifteen years, the school has shown significant improvements that have produced astonishing results. (Overall student GPA improved, daily attendance rates, graduation rates, retention rates, and the number of graduates continuing their post-secondary education.) The school had enjoyed a steady increase in enrollment from 450 to 869 since 1990. Howard students have shown among the most improvement in writing scores on the state's writing assessments.
A leader in school-to-work initiatives, Stenta led Howard to become the first school in the state with an objective of providing each student with a job shadowing, internship and practicum experience on work sites with business mentors-during the school day.
New programs, such as Quest for Quality and the CNAP certification, brought the school national recognition. Graduates are now winning prestigious scholarships to top colleges and universities, and are offered full-time employment from local businesses.
"Henry always possessed the ability to make students and staff set high expectations for themselves, " said Dom Pedante, a former career guidance and placement counselor at Howard who worked closely with Stenta from 1985 to1999. "He was a leader and a visionary in the truest sense. "
Stenta was known for taking a personal interest in students. "He knew most of the students by name, because he was always out among them," said secretary Beverly Harrison. "Everything he ever did was for the good of the students here, and to promote this school in the community. He always saw Howard's potential. "
As an advocate for Howard students, Stenta continually pushed to develop relationships with community organizations and city-based businesses that would benefit Howard students. He was as comfortable at football games as he was in the board rooms of some of the state's most influential companies.
Perhaps most noteworthy is Stenta's work on implementing an innovative cross- curriculum skills assessment program for Howard students - Quest for Quality - that became an integral component of the school's instructional model. Each student participates in the 4-year program, designed to develop employability skills, beginning in ninth grade. During their four years, students assemble an individual portfolio, which includes their best works, academic, and skill achievements, and career objectives. Each student at Howard also participates in job shadowing, internship and co-operative work experience through this program. These programs are all designed to help the students make the critical transition from learning in the classroom to performing at the workplace. The program won a Delaware State Chamber of Commerce Superstars! in Education award in 1996, and Howard has since earned more than $30, 000 in grants in recent years to help other schools replicate the program. Stenta was invited to present the program to the national American Vocational Association convention in 1993.
His unfailing work on behalf of students earned him recognition in the fall of 1998, when he was honored with a "People Who Make a Difference" award from MBNA. Under his leadership, Howard was a national finalist in the New Urban Project in 1997, and was named the state's nominee for the national Blue Ribbon School Award in 1998.
In 1997, Stenta received the University of Delaware Education Alumni Associations' Commitment to Education Award.
"His energy and enthusiasm were infectious, " said Dennis Loftus, former Superintendent of the New Castle County Vocational Technical School District. "His contributions and efforts in improving education are making a significant difference in the lives of thousands of students, and will continue to do so in years to come. I can't think of a more honorable legacy. "