In Charlotte, one such outstanding leader is Alison Harris of Ranson IB Middle School. When Alison became principal of Ranson in 2011 it was a school in crisis, with a low teacher retention rate, low parental involvement, and limited use of data to drive teaching and learning. Alison built functioning committees and partnerships that are aligned with the school’s mission of developing life-long learners.
The administration and teachers have worked collaboratively to increase expectations for academics and behavior for students. Alison has also built an entire school leadership team that is New-Leaders trained. These leaders work daily with a student body that is 83% low-income and 89% students of color to set high expectations and transform the lives of their students.
Alison and her team have worked aggressively to set clear expectations for teaching and learning and to hold all staff accountable for results to dramatically increase student achievement. As a result, Ranson has begun to see some initial steps toward progress, particularly around the level of engagement within the school community. Last year, the school decreased teacher absences from an average of 9.7 to 5.8 per teacher per year, decreased unexcused absences from 5.8 to 5 per scholar per year, and decreased out-of-school suspension days from 2.5 to fewer than 1 per scholar per year.
When asked how she knows she is having an impact on her students, Alison replied, “Our school culture is changing. Not only are we increasing the academic achievement of our scholars, but we are changing their perception of education and the impact it can have on their lives. Our scholars are imagining their futures that include college and career. We are changing the life trajectories of our scholars and they believe that they can succeed.”
Every student in Charlotte deserves an Alison in his or her school. New Leaders believes that supporting education is the most important thing we can do for our children and for our country- and that making sure every school has a great leader and leadership team is the best way to start. We already serve 250,000 children and their families in high-need neighborhoods across the country, and, thanks to your support, we’re growing to serve 500,000 children over the next three years. Thank you for joining us and supporting this work.
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