GARY | A Chicago educator has been named principal at Theodore Roosevelt College and Career Academy.
EdisonLearning Inc., the New York-based turnaround school operator chosen by the state Department of Education to take over Gary Roosevelt Career and Technical Academy, named Terrance Little as the new principal.
Little comes to Roosevelt from his role as principal of the Chicago International Charter Schools' Larry Hawkins campus. Using his knowledge of turnarounds, positive school culture and climate, and criteria for student achievement, Little has transformed CICS' Larry Hawkins into a school with a clear vision, clear goals and clear expectations, EdisonLearning officials said.
"It's not about me. It's about the students at Gary Roosevelt," Little said. "That school will be a lot safer than it is this year. We're going to improve the academics. I hate to lose; failure is not an option. We don't want to lose academically or athletically. You are going to see students with more character."
While working at Chicago's Wendell Phillips High School, during Little's first year there, EdisonLearning officials said student scores grew one point on the ACT exam and seven points on the PSAE, or the Illinois state exam. Little also transformed the school's culture into a positive learning environment, they said.
EdisonLearning Vice President Todd McIntire said proof of Little's success at Wendell Phillips' was the drastic reduction in fighting and overall violence, with a simultaneous increase in student motivation and school pride.
"One of the first things we realized at Phillips was the school was rich in the arts. We invested in things like that and in the community," Little said. "We needed to give students something to be involved in, and that's what we did."
Little said Roosevelt is not starting over but is rebuilding its future. "I want to bring back that pride," he said.
The state took over Gary Roosevelt after it entered its sixth year of academic probation. It was one of seven schools in the state that were taken over. The other six are in Indianapolis.
EdisonLearning hopes to open the new school in the fall with at least 750 students in grades six through 12.
Many of the retired Gary Roosevelt teachers and alumni at the news conference Tuesday were pleased to hear what EdisonLearning officials said and were impressed by the new principal.
Annie May, president of the National Roosevelt Alumni, said it will take everyone's getting involved to turn around Roosevelt. "I'm not pointing any fingers at anyone. The young people have to be willing to learn, teachers have to be on their game and parents have to be involved," she said.
As one of the architects of Public Law 221, the state's school accountability law, Roosevelt graduate and state Sen. Earline Rogers, D-Gary, said she never expected it to get to this point. "But now that we've gotten to this point with Gary Roosevelt, I'm here to see how this process is working and to be a resource to shape the relationship between traditional public schools and turnaround academies."