Award-winning principal embraces excellence and equity

An IB school leader, Thomas Dodd, has won the 2017 National Principal of the Year by the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

Chalkbeat reports that when Dodd arrived as Principal at Lesher Middle School in Fort Collins, Colorado, USA, 11 year ago, the school’s reputation was less than sterling. Enrolment was dipping to dangerous levels and a well-regarded honours programme separated the haves and have-nots. Dodd went to work by introducing an equity agenda and breaking down barriers by opening up the IB Middle Years Programme (MYP) to all students.

Since then, Lesher’s enrolment has grown from 500 to 770, with a waiting list. He states that the students from historically disadvantaged backgrounds—who come with less background knowledge, less parent support—need more support. “Our strength is diversity and our challenge is diversity. They need more help and we are trying to catch them up academically and social-emotionally. That is where our challenge is.”

He goes on to say that, “[The IB] is not an elitist programme. It’s an elite program. I want to be an elite school. You can define that as an excellent school. But not elitist.” He believes that IB instruction is good for all kids aged 11-to-16 because it is about whole child learning and inquiry. “Our professional responsibility and, more importantly, our moral imperative, is to educate every kid to the best of our ability.”

He is most proud with how the culture and perception of the school has changed from a place with dangerous rates of enrolment to a place that is desirable. He hopes the honour will cast a spotlight on the difference that inspiring leadership can make.

Read the full article here.