News

What makes a successful urban principal?

By Meris Stansbury, Associate Editor, @eSN_Meris
September 11th, 2013

PBS Newshour discusses training and retaining great principals in struggling urban schools

principal-urban“Urban schools often face great challenges, low test scores and high dropout rates,” according to a recent PBS Newshour segment. But just as schools are trying to create 21st century learners, can education programs create the perfect urban school principal—leading to better test scores and higher graduation rates?

According to Ernesto Matias, high school principal at Wells Community Academy in Chicago, Ill., principals can be trained for urban school environments and issues specific to urban schools.

Wells, which Matias explained experienced a student walk-out last year (2012) and fired four teachers, began to stand for “We Educate Low-Life Students.” For the past 16 years, Wells failed to meet basic academic standards for test scores.

“That’s what I walked into,” said Matias. “A lot of distrust, disunity, and a lot of meeting up with staff members here.”

But five years after the new acronym for Wells was in full-swing, test scores have improved and the graduation rate is steadily climbing. The school attributes this success to Matias’ leadership.

(Next page: Urban principal training programs and PBS video)