As part of National Principals Month, sponsored by the National Association of Secondary School Principals and the National Association of Elementary School Principals, we are profiling some of the best and brightest principals in our schools.
Today, we are highlighting Roslyn Valentine, the founding principal at Lorain County Early College High School, a collaboration of the Elyria and Lorain school districts and the Lorain County Community College. Under Roslyn’s leadership, Lorain County ECHS was part of a cohort in Ohio that achieved a 92% graduation rate while 30% of those students graduated with a high school diploma and associates degree.
What originally drew you to work in education?
Originally, I thought I would go into medicine. But, I suppose I was always fated to be an educator. From the 4th grade through 8th grade, I was the teacher’s aide grading papers, peer tutoring, monitoring the class… I met my best friend of 55 years peer tutoring her in third grade geography.
What is the greatest challenge you faced as a principal?
For any public school educator, funding is one of the top two challenges. Every year, my staff would face possible firing or the closing of the school. It’s hard to change the staff mindset when they are worried that they will lose their job or be transferred. The second challenge is to convince everyone that you can have student success despite the societal skepticism of public education. Early College has proven that it can be done.
What are the keys to meeting the needs of diverse learners?
Relationships with students and families. Recognizing and respecting cultural differences but not to undervalue it or overcompensate for it. Understanding that any student, diverse or not, will need support, encouragement, and guidance.
How did EDWorks help your students?
What EDWorks provided for my school was a common goal, a framework, and a pathway to get there. The commitment to the core principles provided the focus for the staff and students. All of us knew what we needed to do and when we were distracted, we returned to those principles.
What was your favorite part of being a principal?
I am a first generation graduate. Every time I see a first generation student recognize that they can do this thing (college courses), I know I have been a part of something wondrous. Sometimes my favorite part is when the student elects to come to the principal’s office about an academic issue instead of behavioral one. Or the first time they come to your office to tell you they passed the class that was their biggest hurdle. My favorite part of being a principal is knowing that one student success is the pathway to more student successes.
Jesse Moyer is the Director of State Advocacy and Research with KnowledgeWorks. He is a believer in public education working and passionate about family, sports and fishing.