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High poverty. High performing. These are two phrases that describe Hattie Watts Elementary today — but it wasn’t always that way writes  Niki P Fryou.

When I became assistant principal in 2006, there were large gaps between the performance of our white students and our black students and economically-disadvantaged students. One reason was a persistent lack of belief in our students. When someone would say our students should be performing at higher levels, some community members, faculty members and even parents would say: “We’re not an affluent community, like so-and-so. Our kids face real challenges at home and at school. They can’t be expected to achieve at the same level as those kids.”

To dispel this negative stereotyping, our leadership team and faculty told our school community it didn’t matter if our students came from an impoverished or affluent community. If you show children you believe in them, they can and will achieve. When I became principal the following year, I set out to instill that belief schoolwide. As a result, we’ve made significant progress and continue to earn accolades today. Read the Article