School pride, discipline key for principals

When principals Howard Davis and Lamont Cole enter their schools this month, it will be with two tried and true regulators: discipline and commitment.

During separate interviews the two respected principals told Jozef Syndicate that they will not only corral students, parents, and teachers around school pride and school spirit, but they will also bring them together to demand more structure and discipline from themselves.

“There are three rules they will have to follow: come to school on time, go to class on time, and do your work on time!” said Cole, who begins his first year as principal of Community School for Apprenticeship Learning, after two years as Park Forest Middle School principal. “And that’s the same for teachers and administrators: come to school on time, go to class on time, and do your work on time!.”

“When they do, it’s going to be a great year,” Cole said.

With the same resolve, Davis, who is principal at Scotlandville Magnet High School, said he and the Hornet teachers will set the discipline bar high for students, their parents, and for themselves. However, Cole and Davis agreed that to carry these strategies through the entire school year, community support and reinforcement will be necessary.

“When we start getting in trouble for being hardnosed, the community will have to stand up and say ‘we support what he is doing,” said Davis, 64.

He is an alumnus of Scotlandville and one of the alumni association leaders who fought for the school to return to its original black and gold colors, hornet mascot and athletic department. Now as principal, he said he will fight for the school to return to the highly esteemed academic ranking it once carried as an all magnet school. But, he admits, that will take a heavy hand approach to academic and social discipline.

According to news reports, the schools have had only one serious incident on campus every three years but for Davis and Cole any disruption in the classroom is serious.

“This is not the place for any interruptions,” said Cole, “and it will not be tolerated from the students, teachers, or parents.”

Scotlandville has had a bumpy two years under the leadership of four principals only to return to Davis, a community favorite.

“He’s from the old school of thought,” Cole said of Davis. “He believes a child deserves a great high school experience with school dances every Friday, games, and challenges. And that the community gets actively involved around the school and its students…He has built that in Scotlandville.”

So has Cole and the Park Forest Middle school teachers who regular hold workshops at the school for parents on things like using computers. It has increased parental involvement.
Both Cole and Davis said the rising bar of school performance standards are non issues when the students and teachers grab on to the principals’ demand for commitment and discipline.

“Parents want a place to send their children where they know they are safe and where they will learn. It’s my job to make sure of that,” said Davis. He plans to begin the school year with a student forum that will motivate the students and faculty, teach them Hornet pride, and lay out rules for the year.

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