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Former Editorial Director of Edutopia; dad of 4 (3 kids in public school)

In Touch by Email

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Ann, You should have received an email from me about Pete Gorman's description of his visit.

Education reporter, The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer

Please contact me

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David, this site does not make it easy to reach you privately; I tried to send you a message but have not gotten a reply. Can you call me at 704-358-5033 or email ahelms@charlotteobserver.com? The person who was principal at Cochrane in 2006-07 is adamant that Peter Gorman never visited.

Former Editorial Director of Edutopia; dad of 4 (3 kids in public school)

Very Inspiring

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Joseph, more than 30 years in and you are still believing, still fighting to give your kids a fair shake. We all owe you a debt of gratitude. Thank you for your passion and your resolve.

High School Mathematics Teacher

What a fantastic story!

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David,
Thanks for the posting. I read it over three times! I work in a district where all of the problems that you delineate in this article exist. I do not work at the regular campus, I work at the "alternative" campus for the district where we get the students who have been disciplined at their regular campus for various infractions, and usually major or violent reasons. It is, like the district cited in this article, a very poor district. Employment and income rank at or near the lowest in the state. Drug and gang affiliations are much more the norm rather than the exception. The students that are sent to us (of high school age) have long ago been left behind, victims of the "sit in the back and don't be disruptive and you'll pass even if you don't work" mentality. The vast majority of the kids that I get have a third to fifth grade mathematics background.
Hence, in addition to the fact that the students come to me unmotivated, the atmosphere around the school is not much better. I am not a rookie teacher (I have been a teacher for over thirty years) and when I first took the job here I was told by veterans that I was trying too hard and that I was going to get burned out. They were proven right, but mainly for one reason. Without a consistent agenda from all teachers, the students were on the edge of revolting in my class. There was actually one other teacher there who had the same values as I did, and he followed me into the classrooms, so I was on the point! The other teachers there went through the motions, happy to survive on a day to day basis.
The other teacher that I mentioned and I have commented before that we wish we could run the program the way we would like. As in your narrative, the first thing we would do is to purge many of the staff currently employed there. These kids need to know that we are truly there for them, and not to just baby sit them until they can get back on their regular campus. My favorite line that you wrote was "...most daunting obstacles -- the ones that exist in the mind of anyone who resolves to buck the odds." That is so true, and until we can break through that barrier, we will never be able to succeed. We need to be consistent in our approach. The kids will not like it at first, but from my experience, once they see that the programs implemented is for their benefit, they will come around. Even the name of our program, which I will not state here for privacy purposes, reeks of negativity. Our principal, in my opinion, is a good man who has valiant motives but is unable to get much done because our school is, more or less a dumping ground.
One more point that you made was the changing of the name of the school to Cochrane Collegiate Academy. I love that. The name alone can bring a sense of pride to both the students and the teachers. I would love to do something like that where I am, but I am not in a position to do anything like that, so the negativity will continue as I try to forge my way through and strive to get that one student a day more engaged. That is my goal.
Sorry for my long comment on my personal story, but your story and message gave me some degree of hope that, perhaps, someday, we can still make a difference.

Respectfully,
Joseph Connors

ESE Resource Teacher, Dunedin Florida

Thank you...not tou....finger

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Thank you...not tou....finger slipped

ESE Resource Teacher, Dunedin Florida

This gives me hope for my

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This gives me hope for my school, thank tou.

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David Markus Former Editorial Director of Edutopia; dad of 4 (3 kids in public school)

Cochrane Collegiate Academy

  • Topic:
    • School Turnaround
  • Location:
    • Charlotte, N.C.
  • Setting:
    • Urban
  • Grades:
    • 6-9
  • Enrollment:
    • (2011-12)
      620
  • Student Population:
    • (2011-12)
      87% qualify for free or reduced-price lunch
      60% African American
      30% Latino
      3% Caucasian
      2% Asian/Pacific Islander
      <1% Native American
      13% individualized education programs
      20% English-language learners
  • Note:
    • Expenditures below are from 2009-10, the most recent available for state data. State totals include all budget items such as utilities, school activities, and custodial costs; district and school totals do not.
  • Total per-pupil dollars spent:
    • School: $6,133
      District: $5,346
      State (N.C.): $8,451
  • Student Achievement:
    • Since 2008, Cochrane Collegiate Academy has
      - narrowed the achievement gap between economically disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged students by 35%,
      - more than doubled the number of students meeting or exceeding state reading and math standards.