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Dispelling the Myths
Written by Lorita Williams
On March 5, 2010, the headlines in the Chicago Tribune announced an astonishing accomplishment. The entire senior class at Chicago’s only public, male, all-African-American high school had been accepted to four-year colleges. The picture of 107 very proud young black men, sporting their red and gold victory ties, on the front page of the Tribune was an inspiration to us all. The article was sent around the country and all of us who read it - cheered, and sent it to everyone we knew.
How did this happen at a little charter school on the South Side of Chicago? Was this an exception, or a miracle? The answer is neither—not if you look at the underpinnings that supported this outstanding achievement.
There were several key elements at play here. Tim King, the CEO of Urban Prep Academy, had a mission, and he rallied the entire school around it. It was simple and clear—every student would graduate at proficiency and be accepted to college. The summer before their freshman year, the boys took a field trip to Northwestern University; just stepping onto the campus gave life to their dreams. This mission blossomed into a shared belief among students, faculty, parents and administrators – they collectively owned it.
Mr. King saw the obstacles but he did not let them stop him. Instead, he took a stand and defied the long-held traditional belief that some children have it and some children don’t – that most black boys don’t graduate from high school, let alone college. “I never had a doubt that we would achieve this goal," King said. "Every single person we hired knew from day one that this is what we do: We get our kids into college."
The outside environment didn’t change; these young men still had to walk through dangerous neighborhoods and metal detectors to get to class – but what did change were their mindsets - how they thought about themselves and their capabilities. Mr. King and his staff showed them how applying effective effort and working hard (only 4% of the boys entered Urban Prep reading at grade level) could have a direct impact on their success.
To accomplish this everyone had to adhere to newly instituted policies which included longer school days, a rigorous academic schedule, and a strict uniform dress code. They all - faculty, administrators and parents - saluted the same flag in support of getting these children to college.
At the Efficacy Institute we believe you can transform lives, that all students can “Get Smart” and be college bound if provided the right roadmap and support. Clearly, Tim King and his staff have demonstrated this at Urban Prep Academy.
We applaud the staff and students at Urban Prep for their hard work, and their families for supporting them. Furthermore we applaud Mr. King for setting a fine example of how one man with a clear vision and mission made a huge impact on the lives of students, and put a small charter school from the South Side of Chicago on the map.
Visit Urban Prep online to learn more about their success: http://www.urbanprep.org/100percent/
The Efficacy Institute welcomes Lorita B. Williams as the newest member of our team! As Director of Account Management, Lorita brings over 30 years of management, business development, account management, customer service and marketing experience to her role. Additionally, she currently teaches "College Experience" at Roxbury Community College. She invites comments and questions from readers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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