Fulfilling Promises: Winter 2014

Fulfulling Promises: Winter 2014


– See more at: https://mcnc.us/2013/11/fulfulling-promises-winter-2013/#sthash.hRw7Mkcb.UH45kr1W.dpuf

MATTIE ADAMS A Principal Who Lives by the Motto, “Through faith, all things are possible.”

Mattie Adams, Principal Harbor Teachers Preparation Academy

Mattie Adams, Principal Harbor Teachers Preparation Academy

The Los Angeles Unified School District announced their eighth Principal of the Day to be Mattie Adams-Robertson, the extraordinary leader of Harbor Teacher Preparation Academy (HTPA) on the campus of Los Angeles Harbor College.
Dr. Mattie Adams-Robertson opened Harbor Teacher Preparation Academy in 2002. She had served the Los Angeles Unified School District as a successful mathematics teacher, counselor and assistant principal at Banning and Narbonne High Schools. In taking the job as principal of an Early College High School in the genesis of the era of dual enrollment high schools for under served populations, she marked herself as a pioneer, champion for all students, and early proponent of a movement that has spread throughout California and the country.
Now, HTPA, in it’s 12th year has a national reputation for graduating 55% of their students with a dual high school diploma and Associate Arts degree and 95% of it’s graduating seniors completing at least one year of college when they leave high school. During her tenure, Principal Adams says she’s consistently set high expectations for all students and staff, who continue their strides toward academic success. HTPA’s 2011 Statewide Rank and Similar School Rank is a “10/10” and the HTPA Academic Performing Index score is 931.

Visitors to the campus, located in portable trailers on college grounds, are greeted regularly by the charming Principal, who cares for their every need and comfort, while managing the many tasks required by the district, college administration and most especially the 437 students and families she serves. She counts among the many who have come to see high school students blending with and often outshining their college counterparts Melinda Gates and delegations from as far away as Washington, D.C.; Singapore; and South Africa.

In her role as a principal who cares for staff as much as students, she has provided ongoing support and guidance to make the faculty exemplars of innovation and professional growth. An earlier embracer of the MCNC Peer Review process: CLASS, has fostered a supervisory model that is designed to provide peer support through reflection and evaluation. HTPA was the first school on the West Coast to implement this model with great success. Her staff has shared their protocols and experiences at national conferences, demonstrating how leadership can be a shared experience.

Ms. Adams has been a star on the MCNC stage for many years. She has mentored new schools, like the highly successful Academy of Health Sciences in Prince George County, MD and served on the Executive Board of the Consortium and is a founding member and leader of the California Coalition of Early and Middle Colleges. She lives by the principle that through faith, all things are possible, and her achievements attest to that belief.

Mike Sinclair Wins the Oscar of Education: The Milken Award, $25,000

MCNC proudly celebrates the recognition of principal, Mike Sinclair of Brashier Middle College Charter High School as a 2013 Milken Educator.  No one in our organization was surprised when the announcement came over the wires, but Mike, who thought his Friday afternoon was to be spent escorting the Superintendent and SC educators around his campus was caught completely off guard.  He did not have an inkling. He was told the state Supt was looking to showcase SC Schools. “We are involved with some important state programs so I thought it  made sense. I made sure local officials would be there with all the students. I spent weeks frantically preparing for the visit.
This was the first year that the school was in the TAPP system so I thought we were getting an award for the school. When Gary said, ‘A person….’ I started to get anxious.”

In making the announcement before SC educators, the faculty and student body of Brashier, Dr. Mick Zais, Superintendent of Education of South Carolina said:
“Teaching is a calling not a job. . .Coming from a family of educators, I know that these types of recognitions do not come often enough. . . Teachers can have the single most important impact on a child.  Kristi Grooms [Dutch Fork, SC honoree] and Mike Sinclair represent all that great teachers can be and the heights they can achieve. They have shown real leadership in their schools and fully deserve this prestigious award.”

After the Superintendent and Dr. Gregory Stark, National Institute For Excellence in Teaching President and CEO made their remarks, Sinclair stated, “My philosophy of education is that students all have tremendous potential and they develop at different times or in different ways, so as an educational system we need to be flexible and focus on meeting the needs of our students rather than meeting the needs of a system. Students just have tremendous potential that unfortunately can go untapped if someone doesn’t take time to look at it.”
Sinclair graduated from the University of SC and received a Masters Degree in Administration from Furman University. After teaching at J.L. Mann Academy of Math, Science and Technology and Beck Academy of International Studies he served as AP at the latter. A 4year tenure as principal at Berea Middle School in Greenville, SC led to the offer to open Brashier Charter MCHS, the second early college charter high school affiliated with Greenville Technical Community College. In looking back on the past decade, Sinclair remembers his early days as a principal. “I started the principalship at thirty years old, fresh out of graduate school. I went to school with veteran staff. I was told they needed time to adjust. I was so young, my suit was even too big for me.” Today, Mike serves on a variety of statewide committees and associations including  the SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools) Review Team for the state of South Carolina.
Sinclair was instrumental in the planning and building of Brashier Middle College, a charter school that opened with 100 students in 2006 and has grown to 420 in 2013. Brashier proudly boasts a graduation rate of 98.3 percent and enrolled 77.7 percent of its upperclassmen in college classes in 2012. These students accumulated nearly 2,000 college credit hours along with completion of high school requirements. 2012 graduates received a total of $2.2 million in college scholarships.

Over the last eight years at Brashier, Sinclair’s leadership  has been guided by and stayed true to his vision. A believer in life long learning and the importance of all members of the learning community to experience growth, he is proud that teachers at Brashier receive ongoing professional development and are expected to stay abreast of successful research based instructional practices.  Always an educational driver and not a follower, he has worked with MCNC to spearhead school wide literacy before the Common Core, on line communities of practice before MOOCs, Peer Support and Review before Danielson’s Framework, and Dave Conley’s EPIC assessment for college readiness in high school. He implemented TAP: The System for Teacher and Student Advancement, where master and mentor teachers model research-based instructional practices
All students at the school are encouraged to take, and supported in, college classes, and struggling students are identified early and enrolled in a Freshman Academy that helps them upgrade their skills and prevents dropping out, which can be endemic in the 9th grade. Combining high school and college skills and social emotional maturity is a complex task. Sinclair and his staff address these complexities with attempts to strengthen students’ communication and leadership skills, by creating portfolios and requiring student presentations to adults as early as freshman year. He has also tried to build strong connections with community partners in order “to try to connect our students to a world that’s bigger than just Simpsonville, South Carolina,” he said.

Colleagues describe Sinclair as an encyclopedia of best practices who stays abreast of legislation, literature and statistics, using data to formulate results-oriented strategies.
He guided creation of a charter school bill that brought a funding increase. He is also credited for improving relationships between public and charter schools.
Mike is a fixture and welcome presenter at MCNC Conferences. Often he shuns the personal praise and recognition for his school’s accomplishments, placing his faculty in the forefront for the hard work and dedication they have demonstrated. Each initiative resulted in growth for the faculty and, even more, success for his students as the data shows.

The education award comes with a $25,000 prize that Sinclair may use however he wishes. He is the second MCNC educator to receive this award. In 2007, Sakhalin Finnie, chemistry teacher at Harbor Teacher Preparation Academy was surprised by the honor.  Selection of Milken recipients alternates each year between elementary and secondary educators. Educators are recommended for the honor by a blue-ribbon panel appointed by state education departments and based on exceptional educational talent as shown by effective instructional practices and student learning results, exemplary educational accomplishments beyond the classroom and contributions to education that are largely unheralded but worthy of the spotlight. Winners are in their early- to mid-career with long-range potential for professional and policy leadership.
Recipients join the Milken Educator Network, a coalition of top educators who have access to a variety of expert resources to help cultivate and expand innovative programs in their classrooms, schools and districts.

Mike spoke of the impact the award has and may engender in his future. “Everyone I run into who is a Milken, I have such respect for. These are the educators who do it to serve students. It’s great to be a part of something connected to a national community. . .I feel I have work [ahead of me]. I can influence people in the educational community from my office. I believe there will be a lot more opportunities over the next 24 months. I believe I’m called to do something.”

Mike Sinclair is often heard saying, “I accept this honor with pride, but I accept it because of what my students and teachers do.” And that’s another reason why this award is so fitting and justified.

And if all that isn’t enough, Mike says, disbelievingly, “My father tweeted about me.”


Lassiter Makes Enduring Legacy to El Centro ECHS

This article was prepared by Eric Markinson, Principal at Dr. Wright L. Lassiter Early College HS. Interviews conducted by Kevin Ramos, class 2014.

Dr. Wright L. Lassiter Enjoying the proceedings

Dr. Wright L. Lassiter Enjoying the proceedings

This November, Dr. Wright L. Lassiter Jr. retired from his post as Chancellor of the Dallas County Community College District.  One of his lasting legacies is his instrumental role in founding Middle College High School at El Centro College in 1988.  The story goes that someone—Dr. Lassiter, or a counterpart from Dallas Independent School District, depending on who recounts the tale—read a blurb in a higher-ed journal regarding LaGuardia Community College’s successful partnership with MCHS, then already a decade old, and International High School.  MCHS Dallas was one of MCNC’s early offspring —a testimony to the power of trumpeting the unique work that the Consortium accomplishes.  Having transformed itself from re-connection program to magnet school to its current incarnation as an early college, the school now serves a diverse group of students who are attracted to its alternative-school beginnings.  Students arrive embracing the school’s vision of every student receiving an associate’s degree, every student having the opportunity to complete a bachelor’s degree.  85% of the school’s students would be the first in their families to complete college.

Because that opportunity was so dear to Dr. Lassiter’s vision, the school community petitioned to name itself after its most ardent supporter.  Last November 15, the MCHS Dallas community celebrated re-naming the school Dr. Wright L Lassiter Jr Early College High School at El Centro College.  In preparation for the event, students interviewed Dr. Lassiter’s associates and some of the long-term allies of the program—Executive Dean Howard Finney, Dean of Students Felicitas Alfaro—and researched Dr. Lassiter’s writings.  Students then interviewed Dr. Lassiter about his experience of the school and what moved him to support the Middle College ideal of college for all.

Dr. Lassiter speaks to students and faculty and renaming of school ceremony

Dr. Lassiter speaks to students and faculty and renaming of school ceremony

Kevin Ramos, Class of 2014:         My first question is, Could you recall for us how the school was established?

Dr. Lassiter: It was early 1988 when the Dallas [Independent School District] Superintendent and the Dallas [County Community College] District Chancellor and other interested individuals were concerned that there was a group of students who were high-achieving, but had some challenges and were dropping out of high school.  So a delegation of us went to New York, to tour the Middle College and LaGuardia Community College.  We were impressed: It was a high-achieving institution; students were highly motivated.  And, when we came back it was the general conclusion that we should start such an activity here in Dallas.  Because I was the President of El Centro, and because many of the students at LaGuardia were African American and Hispanic, inner-city students, we thought this was the best place for the students.  It was a little difficult for the students the first 2 or 3 years; then we began to show the faculty, Oh, what good work the students were doing.KR:    And why did you believe, personally, that it was important to build a Middle College High School at El Centro?

Dr Lassiter:   Well, I grew up in Mississippi, during the era of segregation; and I saw the challenges that persons of color—really, at that time, African Americans—faced.  And I became convinced that wherever there was an occasion to provide an opportunity for students, that opportunity should be addressed.  And so, I felt that this was something that I should do.  As Paul Harvey used to say, “And you know the rest of the story.”  It turned out to be a very good venture: Look at all of you [students].

Miguel Najera, Class of 2014:       Dr. Lassiter, in one of your books you wrote, “Make an impact, not an impression.”  As a major community service contributor, to United Way and the Urban League, what do you think has been your most significant contribution to the community?

Dr. Lassiter:   Let me start by telling you how my service orientation came about.  When I was a teenager, my father shared a thought with me.  He said to me, “Junior, Service is the rent you pay for the space you occupy here on earth.”  That became one of my fundamental values.  I wanted to be of service.  So, when I came to Dallas, there were a number of opportunities for service—United Way was one of them, Salvation Army, the African American Museum—all of those where you could contribute to the betterment of the larger society.  That has just been the way I have conducted my life.

MN:   What is a motto you try to live by?

Dr. Lassiter:   “The largest room in any house is the room for improvement.”  That is the message I convey to people like you, students—saying to you all that there are no boundaries to what you can achieve; there are no boundaries to that which you should acquire, to help you as you go along in life….So, that is what I would say to all of you as you go through life, as you get your high school diploma and associate’s degree: Don’t stop; keep going.  didn’t.  I’m still in school, by the way.  I recently…I decided that, although I have all these degrees, I wanted to get some deeper grounding in the spiritual area…. So, I am completing another doctoral degree…because the largest room in any house is the room for improvement.

KR:    Do you have any advice for high school students who are uncertain about their future?

Faculty and students from El Centro Community College and Dr. Wright L. Lassiter ECHS pose with the honoree

Faculty and students from El Centro Community College and Dr. Wright L. Lassiter ECHS pose with the honoree

Dr. Lassiter:   Someone asked me, “What have been your personal success factors,” and I wrote this: Hard work; determination; preparation; drive for success; and risk-taking.  Let me tell you what happened to me when I finished college: I was the first person in my family to finish college.  After I had walked across the stage of the chapel at Alcorn College, my family and I were smiling and getting ready to leave Alcorn and go back home to Vicksburg, when the head of the business department came to me and asked if I had a job for the summer.  My father was a contractor, so I always had a job for the summer…  “We would like for you to stay here and join the faculty.”  Not two hours earlier, I had graduated with a baccalaureate degree.  My response was, “If you have enough confidence in me to offer me the job, then I am enough of a risk-taker to say yes.”

US Congressional Representative Donna Edwards Keynote Speaker at Student Leadership Conference

Rep. Donna EdwardsMCNC is proud to announce that the keynote welcoming address at the 2014 Student Leadership Initiative Conference in Prince George County, MD will be delivered by distinguished US Congressional Representative, Donna Edwards. Opening ceremonies will take place at Prince George County Community College on Wednesday, April 30, 2014. Ms Edwards, a Democrat, has served in Congress since 2008. She was the first African-American woman to represent Maryland in the US Congress. A graduate of Wake Forest University, she received her J.D. from Franklin Pierce Law Center in New Hampshire.
Ms. Edwards is a long time supporter of Social Justice issues, having served as the first executive director of the National Network to End Domestic Violence, an advocacy and legal support group for battered women. She worked to pass the 1994 Violence Against Women Act. On the global stage she has been an advocate and staunch supporter to end the genocide in Darfur, which resulted in an arrest outside the Sudan embassy in 2009. Currently, she is actively at work on issues such as the repeal of Citizens United, the increase of the minimum wage for all workers in Maryland, and the expansion of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) for high school students.
Donna Edwards is committed to promoting opportunities for higher education for all youth. She is currently sponsoring a statewide competition of STEM projects among high school students in the 4th Congressional District, involving schools, workplace, and research institutions.
Middle College National Consortium and all our students eagerly await this special event.

Consortium Matters

MCNC STEMs Ahead. . . thoughts from Dr. Cecilia Cunningham, Executive Director    cece1

MCNC is proud to share with you that we have been awarded a prestigious i3 grant in partnership with NCREST, Teachers College and Jobs for the Future..Our i3 grant, STEM Early College Expansion Partnership, or SECEP is based on the expansion of Early Colleges with a focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.  The future workplace will require greater facility with STEM concentrations, but despite the economic demand, student interest and achievement in STEM disciplines have remained stagnant. Only about 14% of undergraduates are enrolled in STEM studies, and STEM postsecondary students are more likely than non-STEM students to be foreign, young, and from families with income in the top 25% or with parents who had some college education in STEM (IES, 2009). There are few proven models that have demonstrated success in increasing student achievement in STEM fields, particularly among low income students and students of color. Early College is a proven model for increasing student access to and achievement in college, especially for students who are underrepresented in college.The matching funds for a significant portion of this work come from the Mott Foundation, a long time supporter of Mott Middle College in Michigan and the expansion of the Middle College in that state.  MCNC will be coordinating activities for SECEP in Michigan and Jobs for the Future will coordinate the activities in Bridgeport.  We will cooperatively share and develop new resources to ensure that this project is successfulDr. Chery Wagonlander will provide local expertise for the sites in Michigan.The goals for this 5year project will be:

  • Improve STEM instruction by scaling STEM ECHS designs to increase the opportunities for students’ access to STEM postsecondary studies and careers.
  • Expand STEM ECHS high quality professional development in STEM subjects to increase teachers STEM content and pedagogical content knowledge.
  • Build key partnerships with districts and postsecondary institutions to position STEM ECHS designs for sustainability

At the end of five years we will evaluate the effects on the college going rates at the partner sites especially in STEM.

You will be hearing a lot more about SECEP in the coming months as we prepare for the summer conference, where we will roll out specific resources, strategies and supports.