When Pearl Prince, an educator for more than 40 years with Gary Community Schools, learned she had been chosen a Fellow, her first reaction was shock.
“When I read about the accomplishments of the other people in the group, I told my husband, ‘What am I doing with these people?’” Her determination to do whatever it takes to create new learning models is why she was selected.
“This is just what I do. I just work to do my best to represent Gary Community Schools the best I can,” says Prince. “This is beyond anything I ever thought of. I never thought I was an innovator.”
Her approach to get parents–in many instances, single parents–involved in the learning process, is why the Frankie Woods McCullough Girls Academy has increased test scores for students. Raised by a single parent herself, Prince says that when single parents tell her they’re single and aren’t able to take part in school activities, Prince tells them about her upbringing.
“That breaks the ice,” she says. “Let me be clear. Everything we do here is about student achievement. I tell the teachers we are a team and we need to work together.” With the state placing more emphasis on test results, Prince works to come up with new ideas to teach children beyond the test. Her approach is working. English and language arts scores are up from 74 percent to 84 percent in the last two years.
“We celebrate the success of all our students,” says Prince of the kindergarten through seventh-grade school that has more than 450 students. “Our job is to make sure children have the basic needs, that they’re taught competently, that they’re taught competitively and that they be young ladies. I tell them it’s not important where you start in life; it’s where you end up.”