“You really want to know what makes this school different?” high school Principal John Capozzi leaned in, “Talk to a kid like James.” A “tough kid from the Bronx,” James transferred to Elmont Memorial High School in New York, where he slid silently into seats in the back of his classes and waited for the same bad experience that met him at every school before. But this time, it never came.

“He was in my first period class when I was still teaching,” Capozzi recalled. “And, this one particular day, the kids were really whiney — ‘why all these rules,’ ‘why all this work,’ ‘nya, nya, nya.’ And, as they were complaining about things, James — who never said anything in class — looks up and says, ‘You guys don’t know what you have here. You got teachers who care, who want you to do your work. Y’all wouldn’t last one minute in a bad school.’

“So you want to know what makes this school different?” challenged Capozzi. “Talk to a kid who’s been somewhere else.”

You want to know what makes the difference in schools? Hear from students in “The View From the Lighthouse,” the second installment of our new Echoes From the Gap series.