Name: Letha Gilmore
Principal: Victory Prep Acdemy
What are the problems that you are seeing with our youth in today’s society?
We have two schools on the North and South side. One is 85 percent Hispanic and the other is 85 percent African American, but regardless of the race, they are all dealing with the same issues. Most of it is home and it’s not a question of what they have been taught because most of them haven’t been taught anything. A lot of them are really raising themselves so there is a great deal of miscommunication. They believe that the they should represent themselves like the images on TV; not understanding that has to be a separation. The characters on TV are doing a job; it’s not their reality but the students make it their reality and it doesn’t carry them far.
How does the lack of guidance play a role in their education?
So many of these students are on their own and not living with their parents. They have their own apartments, so work is the priority and school is secondary. This issue is pretty much the [case] for most of the students past ninth grade. It becomes a task for us as administrators because they don’t know how to separate that they are a child once they come into the school. When they leave the school they take on the entire adult form so it make s a huge difference when we talk about test scores and education. School has become secondary that’s the major part of the problem.
What needs to happen for there to be a change in behavior?
There needs to be more parental involvement! Most parents are not involved in their children’s lives when they get to high school because they think it’s over. We find that parents hold their child’s hand in elementary school and they are still somewhat present in middle school. By the time they get to high school, they think that it’s over but that’s the time that they are needed the most.
How can others get involved to help?
We do need community partners and the sponsors because these children need and want the guidance. We find that the students are trying to find their way and so are their parents and their grandparents. We are all in this together and cannot allow them to think that failure is OK.
For more information, please visit www.vprep.org.