Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Did You Know?

I was at a school today in North Minneapolis doing a story. Fewer than one percent of the students are white. 99 percent of the students are African American or Hispanic. They are beautiful children with promise in their eyes. 97 percent of them are on the free lunch program. The average income of the families of the students: $14,000. Many are living in shelters.
A year ago, the superintendent hand picked Mark Bonine to be the principal. 87 percent of the kids did not meet the standards of no child left behind and Dr. Green wanted that changed. So Mr. Bonine came in and evaluated the 60 member staff, he kept four of them. The 750 students in grades K through 8 were accustomed to writing a few sentences or working for five minutes before they were spent. Mr. Bonine changed that too. First off, respect and safety. Second, every kid knows why they are doing each assignment and how it will help them. He got them the best technology in the district. They have free teeth cleanings and flu shots. He started all his teachers in a mentor program, meaning they have to stay after in their own class every Wednesday. But the first thing he did was drive his staff around the neighborhood and to the shelters. He showed them how the poverty here had continued for generations and the ticket out for the kids was education. The goal: every kid can go to college if they want to. Every kid will have the skills to succeed in a college classroom. He doesn't hold staff meetings, he doesn't like committees. He does take the kids to a college dining hall buffet and let them eat as much as they want. He also teaches them about social cues.
He works 12 hours a day. His staff is right behind him and wants to know if they can get the building opened on Saturdays. Half the students stay in an after school program. They have to work hard, they have more to overcome. But then he told me about this video, and you have to wonder maybe all our kids should be doing this.

Quotes From E-man:
E: Mommy, am I going to play soccer this winter?
M: Yes, you are going to play it indoors.
E: INDOORS???? Why can't we play outside?
M: Because there will be snow
E: But we can wear snowsuits!
Quotes From Annie:
We were in downtown Minneapolis, a man came up to Scott and asked him if he had any change to spare. Scott said no he didn't have any cash.
Annie: I have a dollar in my piggy bank at home. (thinks for a second) But I don't think I want to give it away.


gretchen said...

Very interesting stuff- that principal sounds AMAZING--Good for him!

Valerie said...

How do we get more people in education that care this much AND a government that supports it!