I learned something from my daughter again. As we parents tend to fall into the habit of looking at the “numbers” for CMS schools and use those to gauge success, sometimes we forget that the equations can always be reduced to one number: one student.
North Meck H.S. and Hopewell are Huntersville high schools that are often reviewed by the numbers. And in the past few years, because of significant boundary changes that many of us loudly protested, we’ve been carefully scrutinizing the cold hard facts. Have the SAT scores dropped? How many AP/IB classes are being offered? Have the number of clubs declined?
These are the questions I’ve received recently in my mayoral role. As a parent of a student at North and a substitute teacher for many of the students at Hopewell, I’ve been astutely aware of the changes that occurred in both schools when the boundaries changed. I’ve watched student bodies reinvent themselves and rebuild team spirit, I’ve watched sports teams fail miserably because they lost many students to another school, I’ve watched teachers leave and many new ones (enthusiastic ones) arrive…and in some cases, I’ve watched those “numbers” go down.
But my daughter brought me back to reality last night. I shared with her an email that a citizen had sent me, asking to comment on the “numbers” of North Meck. My daughter emphatically reminded me that the question to ask should be: “Do the students who have come INTO North Meck show better test grades? Do students have opportunities to do things at North Meck that are unique to their education?”
“Why don’t you ask about the students,” she said, “instead of looking at numbers?”
The new Community of Huntersville Education Collaborative (CHEC) committee is trying to make each area school a place where we can answer those questions more precisely. The committee members will be looking at the opportunities each school has to make their school unique, and will be helping to fill in gaps or highlight the assets. The committee will avail students with community service opportunities, will coordinate a local “speaker’s bureau” of experts within our community, will encourage field trips to local destinations by working closely with our destinations to provide coordination with lesson plans…. And so much more.
Boundary changes are painful. And the changes at both North Meck, Hopewell, and even Alexander Middle have been significant in the past few years. But if we peel back the layers and look at the opportunities, I think we really have extraordinary people in place to make our Huntersville schools incredibly good. Even great.
If you want to assist the CHEC committee, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll get you connected.
Rebuilding a student body is a challenge, but when you have students who are proud of their school, I think that’s significant. So, I have to share the letter my daughter wrote:
North Mecklenburg High School is absolutely not failing. The reason
test scores were lower last year is because the majority of our
student body had to change schools and we received new students from
other schools due to the opening of Hough… obviously. However, if
you look at the test scores of the individual students at North Meck,
you will see that they actually IMPROVED from the year before. That
means that these students who came from Vance, West Charlotte, and
others benefitted from the incredible teachers, staff, and learning
environment at North.
Any school that has a huge demographic shift will have to rebuild its
programs and will, of course, have lower scores in the first
transition year. But if you actually go to my school and speak with
my amazing principal, Mr. Hayes, you will see how much effort is being
put in to raise these scores. Even the difference between last year
and this year is noticeable. Just one example of this is that my AP
English class had three times the number of students who signed up for
it this year than who did last year. We have a tremendous amount of
teachers who go above and beyond to see their students succeed, and an
overwhelming amount of students who have a strong will to learn.
I absolutely love my school and everything about it, and cannot wait
to hear about its success in the future. Although the school shift
did lower scores, I consider it a good thing because it provided
hundreds of students with an opportunity to go North Meck and have a
better educational experience.
Thank you for your time,
Senior, North Mecklenburg High School