Principal, Dean Petersen Elementary
When I look back at my legacy, I want it to be that I made a difference for children. If every decision I made is best for kids, I did something right. That’s my hope.
This is probably the most at-risk school in Clark County. 100% of our students live in apartments. 100% of our students qualify for free and reduced price lunches. We face a lot challenges right off the bat.
When I first took over the school, we compiled data and I was horrified. Only 2% of our children were on grade level. We knew right away we had to change how we were thinking. We celebrate those children on grade level, but we also celebrate achievement. We celebrate effort. We celebrate participation. I know if I can keep you engaged and trying your best, you’re going to grow and eventually I will get you on grade level. And we’re seeing the right growth but it takes time. I wish I had that magic wand or silver bullet that would make it happen instantly, but we are getting there.
We’re not going to let these kids fail. We don’t lower our expectations – they’re incredibly high. They are the same as at any other school. Our scaffolding may look different, but we know our children are just as capable as any other student across the country. They are special. They have wonderful personalities. They come, oftentimes, with a lot of baggage, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t succeed. It just means they need a little more of our help.