Not long ago I posted articles here on what makes a successful school. I also published my disagreement with the Toronto District School Board decision to fund an Africentric black-focused school. This post will deal with an excellence piece in the Toronto Star. Written by Kristen Rushowy, it is about the new principal at C.W. Jeffreys high school in Toronto.
Well, when I read the Kaplan article, I was struck how much the new principal at C.W. Jeffreys, Jim Spyropoulos, seemed to meet the criteria of what makes a school and principal excellent. A difficult situation for anyone, C.W. Jeffreys is a high school of 890 students and where young Jordan Manners was shot and killed in May of 2007. Yet Spyropoulos takes it all in stride. Obviously, the right kind of leader in the right place at the right time.
And, what exactly does Spyropoulos do? He apparently is just himself, greeting students with “How you doing, man, you good?” In fact, he greets all the students at the main door in the morning and says goodbye to them in the same spot at the end of the day. He continually walks the halls, directing traffic, speaking to students as he goes. On one of those walks one young girl with a Muslim head scarf shouts “Mister, will you come to our class today and see what we made?” “Definitely girls, of course I’ll be there.” And, later in the day, he IS there.
But, make no mistake, Spyropoulos can be tough when he needs to be. For example, as he is making his way around the school, he runs into a young male student who is galloping up a stairwell, tucking a blue bandana into his pocket as he goes. The student says “hi sir.” And Spyropoulos says, “I swear to God, if I see you in the hallway again, we’re going to have a serious problem…Get to class.”
Kudos to the TDSB for sending in the right man for the job. Although white in a predominantly black neighbourhood, Spryopoulos says people in the community have welcomed him with open arms. In fact, he was to meet later on the day he was interviewed with the Jane-Finch Concerned Citizens Group about Jeffrey’s “black history” month schedule.
Well done! Multiculturalism CAN be inclusive afterall — when there are parents who are committed to the school, teachers who care, a principal who cares and students who buy into those commitments.
Which only goes to prove that Canada’s largest city does not need an black-focused school with a black principal and all-black staff to help students stay in school and be the best they can be. In other words, Africentric is not really the issue afterall.
Note: C/P at With Good Reason.