Monday, July 25, 2005

An Educator's Insight

I discovered these words of wisdom in a story from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal about Willie Jude, a Milwaukee Public Schools teacher and administrator, retiring after 32 years.

• "Did my parents give me basic tools (for succeeding in school)? No, because they didn't have them themselves. But what they did have was respect, discipline and courtesy."

• The 80-20 rule - there's only so much schools can do to offset what happens in kids' lives outside of school. "Too many expect the schools to solve the problems when we only have the kids a maximum of 15, 16 percent of the time. . . . Even with extracurricular activities thrown in, few kids spend more than 20 percent of their time in school. That percent will destroy the 20. The 20 cannot carry the 80 unless something productive is happening in that 80 percent."

• "There are two major things that businesses are complaining about (related to the high school graduates). Tardiness and attendance. They go together into attitude and relationships. (Business executives say) if a kid comes in here punctually and they have a pleasant attitude, we can train them. But I can't train them if they're not on time or they're arguing with every supervisor and co-worker they come into contact with. . . ."

Willie Jude - Recently retired principal, Milwaukee Public Schools

I think I will print these out and post them in my classroom this year.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I taught for the man for two years. He is the best administrator I've ever seen. He might be the best motivator of teachers and manager of people I've ever seen in any profession, for that matter.

His last three years were at Custer High School. The article is positive, but it did not do the work the man did any type of justice. The three schools he served as a principal at were the bottom three in a bad school system, which is totally overrun with problems and terribly corrupt at the higher levels.

The work he did at the schools was dramatic. After watching over 25 teachers leave each of my first three years at Custer, many of them talented educators, in his first two years at Custer the entire staff returned. He took over for a failing, god-awful principal and worked miracles.

Well, they really aren't miracles, unless you consider a principal who never, ever forgot what it was like to be a teacher a miracle. I think we're getting to that point in education these days. He treated you with respect, he treated kids with respect, and never wavered...even under high duress and challenge at a brutally tough urban school.

In three years time, he took a school that had a graduation percent barely over 30 and finished over 50% this year. Attendance improved among the students in dramatic fashion; going from a very generous 60% (we were told to mark a kid present daily if we saw them once) to a legit percentage around 75-80%. He got the school off the failing schools list...which unfortunately the school returned back to this year.

People pretty strongly believe that the man was more or less forced out. He is adamantly opposed to the idiotic and relatively unproven micro-plexing trend, and the district seemed resolved that as long as he was there, the school would continue to improve. Big, failing school systems are damaged more by the adults that sit in suits at remote offices than anything else. There is no more clear example of that than this.

Sorry to ramble...but he is a guy who deserves any positive recognition he gets. I was lucky enough to have worked for him.