One Reply to “New Blog In The Old Dominion”

  1. Waiting For Superman
    2011 Person of the year: Patrick Pope
    By: Jonetta Rose Barras | 01/03/12 8:05 PM

    He was booted out of Hardy Middle School, which he had built into a high-performing institution. Then, he was forced to sit for months in a central-office cubicle before being shipped to what some described as Siberia: a struggling school east of the Anacostia River that had ripped through several administrative leaders.
    Patrick Pope was expected to quit. Instead, he doubled-down: In July, he applied to become the permanent principal of that Siberia school — Savoy Elementary in Ward 8.

    “It’s work that I love,” Pope explained during my visit to Savoy, refusing to discuss the decision by former-Chancellor Michelle Rhee — reaffirmed by current Chancellor Kaya Henderson — to remove him from Hardy, despite pleas from students, faculty, parents, the D.C. Council and folks like me.

    Pope’s resilience, integrity and unwavering commitment to District children deserve praise. He is my Person of the Year.

    Before he arrived, Savoy was a mess: “The children were out of control and chaos was the order of the day. Several teachers quit mid-year, unable to cope,” recalled Wanda Oates, a retired DCPS teacher now serving as a long-term substitute.

    Savoy also had failed to meet federally mandated annual progress. By law, Pope could have forced everyone to reapply for their jobs. “I don’t believe in dumping out. I wanted everyone to have the opportunity to show what they had,” he said. Last month, he promoted the instructional coach, Abubakar Senghor, to assistant principal.

    Pope met some resistance from parents who had been told by Henderson an African-American woman would be permanent principal. They got Pope — a white male.

    “There was a lot of resentment,” said Algernon Vest, whose daughter attends Savoy. “Now, I’m actually glad he’s there.”

    One recent morning, students were eating breakfast and talking quietly. After the meal, the “Savoy Tigers” began their morning ritual: an enthusiastic recitation of their creed and core values, which declare “respect, honesty, responsibility and trust” as “cornerstones” of their community.

    “He has turned the school around,” said Vest, citing better behaved students, more focused instructors, including two new male teachers and volunteers — Homerun Baseball Camp and the Washington Performing Arts Society, for example.

    “At Hardy we had a product people wanted,” Pope said. “Here, we have to sell the product. We have to build trust. We’re going to be there in short order.”

    Four Savoy instructors were recognized during the special Standing Ovation at the Kennedy Center last September. The school has received a three-year, $500,000 federal grant, which is being used to establish an integrated arts program much like what Pope created for Hardy. Representatives from the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities recently visited the school; that could mean even more money.

    “We have completely reset the school,” said Pope, adding test scores will rise ultimately. “I am going to require everybody to really work hard.”

    When asked how long he intends to stay, Pope replied: “As long as it takes.”

    See what I mean about his dedication?

    Read more at the Washington Examiner:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.