On December 2, 2011, I had the pleasure to visit Duke Ellington Continuation High School in Los Angeles, California. I was very impressed with the student’s behavior. The campus was very quiet, and even during nutrition the students maintained there composure as they socialized with their friends. Between classes there wasn’t any lagging in the yard, the students seemed to be very focused, and promptly proceeded quietly to their next class. I feel the student’s behavior reflected their respect for their school and themselves.
During my visit I had the opportunity to speak with Principal Cecil McLinn. Mr. McLinn exhibits great passion and determination to ensure the students at Duke are not just another statistic, or news headline, but a success. At Duke success is not a universal term defined by society that is applicable to all, but it is determined and measured individually. Mr. McLinn instills in all of his students the concept of hope. Mr. McLinn seemed to be very sincere in his care and compassion for the students. He understands that majority of the students that attend Duke are terribly overwhelmed with family problems, that is why his first step in helping the youngsters is to build their self-esteem. When entering the office students and visitors are greeted with a sticker on the wall that reads “I like your smile.” Mr. McLinn shared with my colleagues and I that at his school an accomplishment is a smile, not a test score.
Mr. McLinn feels it is important to be honest and upfront with the students. He constantly presents the students with statistics, facts (e.g. increase in youth minorities going to prison), and possible life outcomes. I think that is great he promotes awareness; because he isn’t predicting their future, but allowing them to choose their own destiny.
Mr. McLinn doesn’t allow barriers discourage him from being a phenomenal principle. Although he has to deal with lack of funding and recently had to make a deal to...