I had never been to Scott High School. Toledo Public Schools Superintendent Romules Durant said we’d have to remedy that. And soon.
We did. But I was amazed at the things people said to me on the way: “I can’t send my kid there;” “Be careful;” “It’s dangerous there.”
I saw a different reality at Scott: a great school.
First, I saw the beautiful old building, lovingly restored. The students know this was done for them. You walk into the Scott library. It is beautiful. And quiet. The librarian tells me: “I have zero behavioral problems in here. The students respect the space.”
Second, I was knocked out by the discipline of the students and professionalism of the staff. The hallways are immaculate. And students do not wander those halls. There are occasional “sweeps” to assure that.
Students at Scott walk, talk, and dress with respect. We need to respect them.
Mr. Durant is my guide on this tour, along with a confident, articulate student named Dion Harris, who represents Scott’s proudest and best. As with every school in the district, Mr. Durant visits with office and cafeteria workers — all staff, not just faculty. He appreciates what they do, and he tells them. The students? The super knows many of them, too, from his Young Men and Women of Excellence program. They get, and give, fist clenches and bear hugs. The kids know this man is fighting for them at least 12 hours a day. They also know he expects them to meet a high moral and academic standard.
Mr. Durant has a charisma — a unique gift. He personifies commitment. And that inspires and galvanizes people — not just students, but the business community. He is equally at ease with both constituencies.
He wants to market Scott to the community it serves. Scott students can learn Chinese, cosmetology, radio and television broadcasting, and beginning elements of nursing. But Scott also provides, through its Community Hub, a place for parents to access a computer or work on a GED.
Mr. Durant shows me a closet full of shirts and pants. All donated. Modern urban schools have to do more.
Mr. Durant’s eventual plan for Scott is to extend the learning there to the community college level — through “Grade 14.” He wants a two year program to train day-care teachers and he wants to build on the nursing and broadcasting programs. Going off to college is not for every kid. “Away from a supporting community,” says Mr. Durant, “some get distracted.” Scott has the resources for this plan to become a reality. The TV and radio studios are state-of-the-art.
Some want Scott to become a vocational school. But Mr. Durant says that would disrespect all that Scott has become and is becoming. The thing to do, he says, is to build upon what is already happening.
I think he is right.
Keith C. Burris is a columnist for The Blade.
Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6266.