(L-R) Mrs. William from the office of Marguerite LaMotte and Remon Corely, Principal of Crenshaw High School.
Crenshaw High School Reaches Out to the Community Through Breakfast
Crenshaw High School hosted its first annual community breakfast this past Saturday, honoring faculty, staff, parent volunteers and students.
One of the major goals of the event organizers was to inform the community about the recent changes at Crenshaw High, including the progress of its new magnet program.
The magnet program, which has taken effect this school year, was met with heavy opposition from faculty, staff, and parents when first proposed by the LAUSD earlier this year.
In January, the school board voted to reconstitute Crenshaw High School due to low achievement rates. The backlash was severe; parents, faculty and staff accused L.A. Unified Superintendent John Deasy of taking away “their say” concerning the future of the school.
Parents and students showed up to LAUSD board meetings to protest the decision and even created a Facebook page to support the fight against the reconstitution.
Crenshaw faculty member, Rhonda Adway, an organizer of the last week’s breakfast admitted she too was opposed to the changes at first.
“Everybody was fighting, I was fighting against it too,” she remembered. “We had small learning communities already but they came in and said they wanted to make it all magnet. Traditionally with magnets, there’s a certain grade point average students have to have to be in it. Our concern was making sure our kids could still be here.”
Eventually through negotiations the Crenshaw community got the school board to implement a residential magnet, meaning all students living in the district qualify for the program based on residency alone.
Another concern the community had was for the loss of teachers and staff. The district proposed a reorganizing project as part of the reconstitution, which called for the hiring of a number of new teachers. Additionally all faculty and staff had to reapply for their positions, competing against other applicants.
“We all had to reapply for our positions, myself included,” explained Adway, “we got a lot of new teachers. I was concerned, but we got to interview everyone. The parents and staff interviewed all the applicants…now the kids are happy with their new teachers so it’s really going well.”
Among the new faculty is chemistry teacher Mr. Roush, a first year teacher who is part of the Teach for America program.
“It’s been a steep learning curve coming into the classroom new,” admitted Roush, “but overall, it’s been a wonderful experience. When I was hired, there were all of these changes coming into place, and you kind of hear about all the bad things first. But since I’ve been here, it’s been an overwhelmingly positive experience. I’ve seen a lot of great things from a lot of students eager to learn.”
During a solo performance from one of the choir members who sang in Korean, Roush commented that the Crenshaw Choir is acclaimed for its talent internationally. He explained that the group preforms many places even traveling abroad, most recently to Spain last year.
“There’s a lot of talent here at Crenshaw,” said Roush, segueing into one of his goals. “We’re known for our excellence in so many extra-curricular activities, who’s to say we can’t become as equally known for our excellence academically.”
It’s just that kind of thinking that has converted parent Eunice Grigsby in favor of the changes at Crenshaw.
“I didn’t like the process at first, but because the kids love it, I love it,” said Grigsby whose son, Nolan, is a senior this year and will be Grisby’s fourth child to graduate from the high school she herself graduated from.
“We were afraid to lose teachers, ones that we really liked. And that did happen,” she relented, “but it’s for the best because the kids are telling me how great their teachers are, and that they’re excited to be here now. That’s the most important thing, that the kids are enjoying themselves and that they appreciate what’s going on.”
There was more food than the guests could eat Saturday, at the breakfast catered by a local restaurant.
“We’ve learned a lot planning this. Now I see that we’ll need about four or five months to plan this each year. Next year will be even bigger,” predicted Adway.
“We’re trying to change the culture around here and the perception the community has of the school. We want them to see that yes, Crenshaw is changing and there are a lot of great things happening. We have a history here, a legacy here. We are the community’s school and we’re trying to sustain that legacy and build up on that legacy,” explained Adway. “That’s what this is all about, bringing the community in because it’s a team effort. It takes parents and it takes community in order to make it. We’re promoting education through collaboration.”