Linda Cliatt-Wayman has spent her career working in low-income, low-performing schools — the same Philly schools she grew up in. In her TED Talk, she shares her approach to doing right by kids who deserve the best. If you’re going to lead, lead. “What happens in a school and what does not happen in a school is up to the principal, I am the principal, and having that title required me to lead.That meant stepping up and taking charge.I was not going to be afraid to address anything that was not good for children, whether that made me liked or not.”
So what? Now what? “There were many excuses for why Strawberry Mansion was low-performing and persistently dangerous,” says Cliatt-Wayman. “Only 68 percent of the kids come to school on a regular basis, 100 percent of them live in poverty, only one percent of the parents participate, many of the children come from incarceration and single-parent homes, 39 percent of the students have special needs.Teaching was centered around small groups of students to try and ensure they got their needs met in the classroom.”
If nobody told you they loved you today, you remember I do, and I always will. “If someone asked me my real secret for how I truly keep Strawberry Mansion moving forward, I would have to say that I love my students and I believe in their possibilities unconditionally. When I look at them, I can only see what they can become, and that is because I am one of them,” says Cliatt-Wayman. My reward for being non-negotiable in my rules and consequences is their earned respect. I insist on it, and because of this, we can accomplish things together,” she says.
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