Yeah, it is, so that's when I go walk the halls and see children it kind of reminds me of why I came into this business in the first place.
Despite her relating to the children as people instead of numbers, Barrett admits, "There's a lot of work to be done but I can't forget we're talking about people and we're talking about a community." The new leader at East High hopes to take a broader approach to education than just East High and Maxine Smith STEAM Academy.
"Over the past few years there have definitely been organizations like Peer Power and First Baptist Broad and I mean various organizations that have just poured in resources and people into that school and will continue to do so.
And I think us continuing to work together and maybe looking at some other areas, maybe bringing in industry which is really exciting about T-STEM, is that right now we have almost 20 different companies that are going to come along side the work that's being done there right now." It might be noted that at an open house at East High in January and at a few other occasions the number of outside entities promising support for East High STEM was touted as being 25.
I can have all the ideas in the world, but there is some work that has to be done but I don't think it belongs to us as educators alone." East High has not been isolated and alone in its efforts in recent years.
For almost a decade and a half the Peer Power Foundation, originally known as The Greater East High Foundation, has held after school tutoring sessions and other academic enrichment opportunities for students without cost to them.
Barrett was appointed Executive Principal February 20 to lead East High into its transition into an admission-by-application-only optional (magnet) school using the transportation industry as a focus for a science, technology, engineering, and math oriented curriculum, or T-STEM for short.
The conversion will take place over the next four years, with the ninth graders starting in August, 2017, being the first group of all optional students.
So who am I just to stand back and say, oh, that's scary what they have to deal with. They wake up, they go to school there and if I don't embrace that with my whole heart and see them as more than a number then I'll stay in that place of fear and I refuse to because when I see them I see children.
Despite these efforts, the academic achievement for the East High student body as a whole has not made significant progress, according to ACT scores.
Barrett believes that additional outside involvement will help turn the tide.
Exclusive by The East High Alumni Page April 7, 2017 - "Of course, right now, when I look at the data, when I look at the numbers, it's daunting, downright scary. So I put the numbers to the side then I just look at the people, " says East High's Executive Principal Lischa Barrett ('91), now Lischa Brooks.
East High's overall academic performance has been dismal for many years.