What Does a DTM Principal Brag About?
Principals of schools that have earned our Dispelling the Myth Award are a very diverse group and don’t really share many outward characteristics — they are male, female, black, white, Hispanic, Asian.
But they all have a deep, abiding belief that all of their students can meet high standards, and you can see it in what they brag about.
Naturally they brag about their high-flyers — the students who win model U.N. contests and robotics competitions — the way any principal would.
But the other week when I was at Elmont Memorial High School, which I write about this week in Huffington Post, I was reminded about what makes them equally proud.
The student I heard about from the school staff most often was a senior who had given them the most trouble when he entered as a seventh-grader. “He was such a pain in the neck,” John Capozzi, the principal, told me several times. “I mean a real pain in the neck.”
Coming from a dysfunctional family that wasn’t able to provide him with much, if any, support, the young man was in the office just about every day and failed most of his classes that first year. Capozzi and the other school leaders were at a bit of a loss for a while. They thought extra-curricular activities might be able to engage him, but because he was failing his classes, he was ineligible to participate.
So the assistant principal, Edward Thomas, put him on a strict contract to allow him to play sports and be in school plays. “We kept him busy,” Thomas said. He reminded the student of work owed, made sure he got the extra academic help he needed from teachers, and created a place for him in the school community.
And this spring the young man is set to graduate from high school, something that Capozzi and Thomas had worried might never happen.
And that’s what a DTM principal brags about.