Fund Principal Pens Blog for Ed Week
In this blog published by Ed Week, Principal LeViis Haney of Lovett Elementary shares his “Do’s and Don’ts” of reimagining middle school, which were inspired by his work with The Fund’s Summer Design Program.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Reimagining Middle School
By Dr. LeViis Haney, Principal of Joseph Lovett Elementary School
I chose a career in education because I wanted to make school a place where students wanted to be. As a student, the traditional educational structures did not work well for me – I was not a motivated learner. But, I grew to love learning due to the many teachers who shaped my classroom experiences in a way that allowed me to play an active role in my own learning process.
My experience growing up attending Chicago Public Schools gives me a unique perspective as both a teacher and now as a principal at a CPS elementary school in Chicago’s Galewood neighborhood. That perspective helped me identify a challenge at Lovett Elementary.
Toward the end of my second year leading the school, our leadership team noticed discipline issues and a lack of engagement among our middle school students. That summer, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to workshop this challenge with a team of Lovett teachers and staff through The Chicago Public Education Fund’s Summer Design Program. The Fund is a nonprofit working to increase the number of great public schools in Chicago, and through its Summer Design Program and other efforts, supports principals and enables strong educator teams to reinvent classroom learning.
Through our Summer Design Program experience, we began reimagining the middle school experience at Lovett by identifying and implementing strategies to improve the school culture, build more trusting relationships with students, and empower them to take greater ownership of their learning.
And, I’m happy to report that those strategies are working. Over the past two years, Lovett has seen reading scores grow from the 73rd to the 98th percentile nationally and in math from the 34th to the 98th.
How did we do it? I offer four Do’s and Don’ts that made all the difference at Lovett.