Principal seeking culture shift in Halifax high school
Posted January 20, 2012
Halifax, N.C. — A high school principal in Halifax County is taking an unusual approach in an effort to get more of his students to go to college.
Marvin Bradley, who is in his first year at Northwest Halifax High School, has renamed the 11 buildings on the Littleton campus after state colleges – East Carolina University, North Carolina State University, North Carolina Wesleyan College and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to name a few.
It's part of a bigger effort to change the culture of the school, which has had a graduation rate of less than 75 percent for several years.
Last year, 73.8 percent of seniors graduated up from 57.8 percent two years earlier. Of every student who graduates, about two-thirds go on to a college or university.
Over the next two years, Bradley says, his goal is to see 80 percent of seniors graduating and going on to college.
"I think what our students need, more than anything else, is the guidance and the leadership," said Bradley, who comes from Chicago Public Schools, where he specialized in turning schools around.
Halifax County Schools – one of three school systems in the county – is in the midst of a three-year, intensive program aimed at boosting student performance.
A Superior Court judge ordered the state to intervene in 2009, calling the district's test scores "academic genocide."
Nearly half of the state's 13 lowest-performing schools have been in Halifax County, according to the state's 2011 ABCs of Education report, and state numbers last year showed six of the district's 11 schools didn't improve student performance as expected – including Northwest.
That's where Bradley comes in with his mission to change the school's culture.
A makeover is also in store to give students more confidence about their school. He plans to repave the school's parking lot and sidewalks.
He's also placed a mission statement in the front of the school to get students to take their studies more seriously. The mission: "to offer a diverse education curriculum that will assist students on their path to individual, community and global success."
And he's engaging more with students.
"I believe the students need the opportunity, and they can make a difference," he said. "Once we change the individual, we can change minds. Once we change minds, we can change our creation and where we are."
Parents and students alike are excited.
"I think he's doing a great job," mother Sherri Patterson said.
Student body president Carissa Manley says she's noticed a change in students' attitudes and hopes Bradley's efforts will help get more students like her to college and to achieve her dreams.
"Halifax has instilled in me to push for that, push forever forward." she said.
And Bradley says he'll keep pushing forward to meet his goal.