A Senior Signing Day, We Can All Cheer About

BWBleadTake a look at what Achievement School District Superintendent Chris Barbic calls success in Nashville, Tennessee.

Dozens of students are experiencing success in high school at Lead Academy in Tennessee. There the students and their families celebrate Senior Signing Day, as the graduating seniors announce the colleges and universities they will be attending. The goal of this school district is to “recruit and authorize world-class school operators to serve students that are zoned to schools performing in the bottom 5%.”

These students were not “zoned” to succeed and many of their peers in far too many other cities and states across the country have dropped out of high school and believed college was beyond their reach. National attention on education and reports about the challenges of implementing Common Core requirements nationwide and whether teachers and administrators have had adequate time to prepare for the shift and the question of if Common Core certified textbooks are in ample supply had Blogging While Blue writers looking back 50, 40 and 20 years to our high school days. We were planning for college even when some weren’t quite sure we were “college material’ or at least not “their” college material. At least two of us – Beverly and I- were not standouts on standardized tests. It seemed the test didn’t ask the right questions about the meaning of life or how I might apply my knowledge and experience to addressing poverty and hatred or what lessons we might learn from the writings of Homer or Langston Hughes. The tests were and probably are necessary but they never seemed to tap my love of learning about distant places, the lives of history making pioneers or what motivated them.

Struggling to maintain a high B average in high school taught me much more than any test ever covered. I learned the importance of reading the assigned material as many times as it took to understand it. I learned the limits society placed on me as a young woman and African American weren’t fair but those limits had nothing to do with my potential. I learned hard work and perseverance would win the top prize more times than not. I learned that not every classmate would like me and some teachers would ignore me and most would underestimate my ability to succeed. I learned self-confidence and self- respect are more important to success than being the teacher’s pet, being popular with my peers or having average standardized test scores. I learned to survive and thrive in often the choppy, unpredictable waters of life, to seize opportunities and to seek my dreams. Lead Academy students are well on their way to reaching their dreams and succeeding well beyond the expectations of others. Congratulations to all of the 2014 graduates.