Published on EdNC.org, March 8, 2017 by Erin Burns, Multi-Classroom Leader at West Charlotte High School
When I showed North Carolina’s new state superintendent Mark Johnson around West Charlotte High recently, he saw a vastly different school than when he taught there. Both Johnson and I started our careers in education at West Charlotte in the D building science wing: Johnson taught earth science from 2006 to 2008, and I taught biology in 2009. As we walked, we laughed about our struggles as clueless first-year teachers. Calling the security guard and kicking out a student or two was a part of our daily classroom management routine (note: not a highly effective strategy).
Once one of the top schools in the country and a model for integration with a diverse student body, the West Charlotte we taught in was a high-poverty, highly segregated school where 75 percent of students were on free/reduced-price lunch and 85 percent of students were African-American.
Surrounded by some colleagues who lacked urgency about their students’ educations and because I received little support, I left West Charlotte after a year. I led a highly effective team at a neighboring school while earning my master’s in educational leadership. I wanted to return to West Charlotte if I could lead and create change there for more students. The new Project LIFT initiative gave me that chance using the concept of an Opportunity Culture. [Read more…]