As the guardian of a former PPCS student, how is PPCS unique from a parent’s perspective?
The one thing that I remember vividly about the enrollment process was the home visit. That was the first time I had ever experienced a school that sent a staff member to my home to just sit down and talk with me. I think it was the most unique experience I have ever had with a school, and it provided hope, faith, and confirmation that my brother was going to be taken care of. During the home visit they asked him to write about his future goals and what he wanted to do when he grew up, and he initially didn’t have an answer. By the second week of school he had written an entire essay about what he thought his future would be. The process was different from anything I had experienced before, but it proved to me that students were cared about and would be cared for.
From a recruitment standpoint, what are some selling points you would highlight for families who are considering sending their student to PPCS?
I would say our top three selling points are our core values, council coaches, and the Office of College Placement (OCP). I see our council coaches go the extra mile for every single student. I love the concept of the council coach versus the average guidance counselor because teachers tend to know students the best. In most high schools, the guidance counselor meets with a student maybe once a month and is solely focused on getting students to finish high school. At People’s Prep, we have our teachers in this kind of guidance position so they know the students and their struggles personally.
On top of that, there’s the partnership with our OCP where we have college counselors who build close relationships with students and their families. They don’t just make them successful in high school and send them off to college, but they also support them throughout their college career to ensure that they are successful there as well.
As for our core values, they apply to our staff and our students. I think that’s the difference I see in relation to the average public high school where there might be one set of values for students and another for staff. I love the fact that our community has one set of values that we apply to everyone who walks through the door. It’s what sets us apart but is also what makes us successful.
What is your endgame for students you recruit to join the Wolfpack?
To graduate from the college of their choice as informed, involved and resilient citizens.
When I go out to schools, I look for students who may see themselves as an underdog or may not see themselves as successful because I know we can get them to fulfill the mission. We are a school that serves every child regardless of their circumstances. It doesn’t matter if we enroll a student who has straight As or who struggles in math; I firmly believe that our school is the school for any child. I’m grateful we have a culture that emphasizes that every student is worthy of a great education, can be successful, and is worth the work. Their circumstances don’t define who they are. There’s a quote that I have held close to my heart for years from Newark native Rahfeal “RahGor” Gordon that states, “Your location is not your destination.” Although some of the students may come from adverse environments, I know that where they begin isn’t where they have to end. I want to offer our students all the chances I was offered when I was in their shoes. As an organization, we never count a student out.
As a parent of children who are currently learning from home because of the pandemic, what do you appreciate most about PPCS’s approach to remote learning?
Phew… the patience! Not only is our approach to remote learning accommodating to our students and their families, but it’s also accommodating to staff like me who are “teacher moms and dads” while we also work from home. It’s intense when you are working and trying to put two kids through homeschool at the same time. The intentionality we put into ensuring each student and staff member has the tools to be successful at remote learning is refreshing for me. The phone calls we make to families, texts, dropping things off to their home to address their needs shows that leadership is paying attention to the needs of the entire community. Someone is always asking what we need to be successful.
It is with pride that I serve the families of my community with educators that I know take great pride in the work they do. The patience we offer to all our stakeholders and intentionality has made this process easier to focus on my children and make sure our students are cared for. I am grateful for the leeway I have to be exactly who I am and to work for an organization that understands that I’m an educator, an administrator, and a mommy all in one. If I need to take a moment away from my computer to work on a homework assignment with my daughter, I can do that. I’m grateful that I’m afforded the opportunity to be human and adjust to working in the climate that exists right now.