Rachel Tecca was recently appointed as principal of North High School. Teachers, students, and community members are looking forward to her ideas and hopes for the future of North High. Time was precious with the impending start of school, yet she was willing to sit down and talk about her new job. She is looking forward to the start of school, and has many ideas for the improvement of students’ educational achievement and social behavior. North High School seems ready to have its future shaped by someone with her educational values and experience.
Mrs. Tecca came to this position with a wealth of experience and training. After graduating from Archbishop Hoban High School she earned undergraduate and graduate degrees at Youngstown State University, after which she completed her principal certificate at the University of Akron. While teaching grades six through eight and serving as an intervention specialist in the Akron Public Schools, her primary instructional areas were social studies and English. She was a principal at Bridges Learning Center, an alternative school, for five years. She is looking forward to assuming the principal’s responsibilties at North High School.
She anticipates that “Significant changes will be happening at North High School in the next three to five years. North is considered an Impact Network School, a term the Akron Public School district has coined to provide targeted support to certain buildings.” The Impact School designation is intended to increase North’s status by bolstering student achievement, not just manipulating scores. It hope to make this increase through transformational change in the learning culture.
Knowing that parents place a high value on the quality of their kids’ education, Mrs. Tecca is planning some new procedures to try to get families more involved with the schools and with their child’s education. She said “Mrs. Paula Schafer, who is in charge of the world languages in our district, spoke to me about setting up monthly meetings for our families to bring them to schools and give them updated information, training on how to navigate the school system, and an opportunity to meet their children’s teachers, administrators, and counselors.” She also indicated that North High School will be represented at North Hill Community Leaders Meetings to learn more about the families and how the school and community can work together to create success for students. “Even though we are at the beginning stages, we are going to look for ways to reach out to our families and get them more involved.”
Mrs. Tecca speculated that students are under involved in activities and sports at North because they may not know what all is available to them. “So I think that one of the things we are going to do is to work hard with our counselors and administrators to make sure that students have a full menu of options and are aware of what clubs, athletic teams, and activities are available to them. We also need to be aware of and help students to overcome some of the obstacles they have when they want to participate, such as transportation.” This type of involvement will help students make more friends and improve their academic skills.
After learning about the large ESL student population at North High School, Mrs. Tecca has been planning several different ways to help students pass the Ohio Graduation Test, do better in classes, and improve their English skills. She said that “one of the most important ways in which North High School can help ESL students pass the Ohio Graduation Test will be to give the entire ESL program more structure. At NHS we need to look at what services we can offer students from different countries. We need to analyze their needs, figure out who needs assistance, and then provide it. When we understand the needs and provide assistance based on our data, our students are going to be better prepared to take the OGT. If this assessment and analysis is not done systematically, then we’re not going get the results we want for our students.” She has been talking with teachers to get their ideas about different ways to help students.
North High School has a very large percentage of students who speak English as a Second Language. Some people think because of this large ESL group, the school has been ranked low. When asked if she thought that the low ranking was because of these students, she said “I would never place blame on anybody. I think it’s more of a systemtic issue. I think we have to serve the students who attend North High School. It doesn’t matter where they come from or why they’re here. The bottom line is that we’re here to provide a solid education for anybody who walks through the door.” She accepted respoonsibility, as principal, for “transforming North with the resources and students we have.”
Mrs. Tecca’s biggest concern as school starts is to make sure students start with a correct class schedule so that they get the support and education that they need. If that is not right at the beginning, then it sets the tone for the whole year. “Right now I am working very diligently to make sure that the students who need intervention, will get intervention, and students who need enrichment in AP classes will get it. My biggest fear is not getting class schedules set up correctly.” She is working very hard at getting students’ schedules and classes right.
Her fondest desire for the year is to instill a sense of pride in the school. She wants students, teachers, counselors, secretaries, custodial staff, and bus drivers to be proud of their school. She wants students to be invested in being a North High School graduate. She wants to create an environment where great things are going on so that students want to talk about it and be part of it. “That’s my fondest desire.”
Mrs. Tecca’s interview ended with her returning to her desk to work on issues relating to getting the new year started for students. Her answers were not just responses for the interview, but were directly related to what she has been doing since being appointed principal at North High. She has already met with some parents and is looking forward to working with students, teachers, parents, and community leaders.
Go Mrs. Tecca!
Interview: Nilam Ghimirey
Pictures: Terry Kuhn
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