Leadership students from Chattanooga's Baylor School are visiting Brainerd High School, repaying a similar visit from Brainerd's Elite Leadership Team a few weeks ago. In the past, students from the two schools rarely interacted, but Brainerd assistant principal Dr. Charles Mitchell thought both sides could benefit from building a relationship.
Baylor Community Service Director Joli Anderson agreed, saying, "I think this is extraordinarily exciting, and we're so glad to share in this opportunity."
Baylor students have long volunteered, tutored and mentored at the city's recreation and child care centers. They say their new relationship with Brainerd High is a natural extension of their outreach. Senior Caroline Combs said, "Everything we do breaks down walls and barriers, it connects people." Senior Max Barringer said, "I'm really impressed by the atmosphere at Brainerd, the students are radiating excitement and coming well prepared."
Brainerd's Dr. Mitchell points to teachers like Christie Shepherd, the school's Freshman Academy Algebra teacher, who has helped the school make statewide-leading gains in test scores. The school's leadership team promotes a heavy professional development program to aid in teacher improvement.
As for Brainerd students, the partnership gives them a chance to battle the perception that theirs is a failing school. They're more than willing to share their success stories, and encourage classmates to aim higher. Junior Isaiah Long said, "We're going around helping our students who need help. Leadership team president Kadarius Scott, also a junior, said, "There are so many good things going on at Brainerd High School. I wish everybody could see it." This was the first year for the two groups from Brainerd and Baylor to meet regularly, and plans are underway to expand the program in the 2015-16 school year.