Community pride

Howard High School had challenges. It’s in the bottom 5% of the high schools
in Tennessee. The thing that’s hopeful here is how the community’s coming together to
say we want Howard to be a great school. There’s a new energetic principal that has
been trying to bring the school together and help the kids. It’s heroic work. Howard originated in 1865. It was actually the first African American
school for students here in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The school has a long history of great people that have come out of Howard High School. When I walked into this building last year the school was one of the lowest performing
schools in the state. Only 14% of our graduates go on to a successful completion of a post-secondary
degree. Our students go through traumatic life experiences on a pretty frequent basis. Ninety-three percent live below the poverty
line. Many of our students have children themselves. Many of our students work full-time. So, we’ll have students who show up late
to school but once you take a moment to listen you realize it’s because that student just
got off work so if they show up at 10, you know what, come
on in, and let us love on you and get you the support
that you need to help you be successful. It was very important that we establish a
culture that says, “Yes, we can do this. Yes, we are a school of excellence.” And then we’re going to work like crazy
to make sure we really find ways to make sure that our
students are college or career ready. Howard has always had individuals, the business community, civic organizations. People that really believe in the work occurring
here. So, one thing that was piloted this year was
Future Ready Institutes. And through that we’re able to provide students with opportunities in the career field so that when they graduate they have a next
step plan already set up. We want our students to understand that what I’m doing in the classroom there’s a practical reason in the real world
for this. We also have Saturday Success Academy. We’ve been able to really rally students, get them excited about that extended learning
opportunity, commit to coming in on Saturday so that they don’t fall so far behind and
then give up. I can tell you that we have seen increases in attendance rates and academic progress. I am motivated by the impact we can make, not just those students that walk into this
building every day, but the impact on generations to come because if we can change the trajectory for
the students we know that they can pass that on to their
children, and on down the line for generations to come.

Author: Kennedi Daugherty

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