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Top Administrator Focuses on Standards, Achievement Gap

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Under the leadership of Dr. Beverly L. Hall, the Atlanta, Georgia, Public Schools have seen achievement rise as the achievement gap shrinks. For these efforts and others, Dr. Hall earned the award for the nations top urban educator. Included: A look at Dr. Halls efforts in Atlanta.

For reducing the achievement gap between the Atlanta Public Schools and the State of Georgia, lowering the dropout rate, cutting back the number of teacher vacancies, and renovating and consolidating some of Atlantas schools, Atlanta superintendent Dr. Beverly L. Hall earned the 2006 Richard R. Green Award, the nations highest honor for urban education leadership, at the Council of the Great City Schools 50th Annual Fall Conference.

The award is presented by the council, a coalition of the nation's largest urban public school districts, and ARAMARK, a food and facility services company. The Green Award is named for the first African American chancellor of the New York City school system.

Dr. Hall received $10,000 to present to a graduating senior of the Atlanta schools.

Besides her work in her own district, Dr. Hall also is chairwoman of the Advisory Board of the Harvard Urban Superintendents Program, where she mentors students in the doctoral program.

A native of Jamaica, West Indies, Dr. Hall served in several other urban districts, including Newark, New Jersey, and New York City before coming to Atlanta. She talked with Education World about her desire to see her students achieve at ever higher levels.

Dr. Beverly L. Hall
Dr. Beverly L. Hall

Education World:Who or what inspired you to become an educator?

Dr. Beverly Hall: I did a summer internship in a middle school in Brooklyn, New York, and was very inspired by the teacher who served as my mentor, Bill Regan. I also thoroughly enjoyed working with the middle-school students, and realized then that I would really enjoy working with young people. I seemed to be able to establish a very good rapport with even the most difficult students in the class. This led to me canceling my immediate plans to go on to graduate school and taking a job as a per diem teacher in a middle school in Brooklyn the following September.

EW: What prompted you to come to the U.S.?

Dr. Hall: My mother was already here working, and as each of her three children graduated from high school in Jamaica, we migrated to the U.S. to go to college.

EW: What are your goals as superintendent of the Atlanta Public Schools?

"Urban schools continue to improve, and more students are learning to higher standards. In spite of all the challenges that they face, when given the support and the resources, urban educators are producing good results, especially in our elementary schools.
Dr. Hall: Our overarching goal is to make the Atlanta Public Schools a high- performing urban school system. In order to do this, we must increase the number of students meeting and exceeding state standards while closing the achievement gap.

EW: Which accomplishments while in office have been the most satisfying for you?

Dr. Hall: The achievement level of our elementary schools has been the most satisfying so far. I am also pleased that we have been able to renovate or reconstruct the majority of our school facilities. Finally, we have seen improvements in our graduation rates.

EW: What do you think are the biggest challenges facing urban schools today?

Dr. Hall: We still have a lot of work to do to get our middle and high school students to perform at high levels and to get more of them graduating prepared for post-secondary options. We need teachers who are better prepared to teach in urban school systems, and who have a good grasp of their content areas. We also need professional development of high quality for current staff so they can teach all students to standards. We need more time, that is, longer school days and longer school hours, along with the necessary resources to provide a quality education for our students.

"The achievement level of our elementary schools has been the most satisfying so far.

EW: What do you want people to know about urban schools?

Dr. Hall: Urban schools continue to improve, and more students are learning to higher standards. In spite of all the challenges that they face, when given the support and the resources, urban educators are producing good results, especially in our elementary schools. Urban schools are not afraid to be measured against higher standards and they are confronting the achievement gap. There are many examples of fine urban schools all across this country that should be highlighted so that the general population understands that indeed all children can learn - including children in urban schools.

EW:What makes a good day for you?

Dr. Hall: A good day for me is when I visit the schools and see quality teaching resulting in students learning and also enjoying being in school.

This e-interview with Dr. Beverly Hall is part of the Education World Wire Side Chat series. Click here to see other articles in the series.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Article by Ellen R. Delisio
Education World®
Copyright © 2006 Education World

Published 12/06/2006


 

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