Principal Patterson (Photo credit: Jeremey Cranford)

Chanavia Patterson is changing the principals (pun intended) of education. Named 2017’s Michigan Association of Public School Academies Administrator of the Year, Patterson is challenging educational standards, teachers, and administration while holding an impressive 95.5 percent retention rate among educators in her east side of Detroit school and community. She took a failing school, redirected it and transformed it into one of the best charter schools in Michigan.

Patterson was eager to let Rolling out know how this can be done.

What is the name of the school where you are the principal?
I am the principal at Detroit Enterprise Academy.

Why did you decide to pursue a career in education as an administrator?
I decided on a career in education at an early age. I have this genuine love of learning and wanted everyone to experience that love, as well. After many years of teaching my own 25-30 students, I had a desire to impact more students. In order to do that, I had to come out of my own classroom and begin coaching and supporting other teachers. This spiraled into impacting more students. I knew then going into administration was a natural route for my career.

What hardships do you face being a principal?
The hardest part of being a principal is trying to meet the needs of so many people on a daily basis. Balancing student achievement, teacher engagement, parent satisfaction and upholding all operations can be difficult at times. I’ve learned to prioritize my time and delegate various tasks to ensure I am well balanced myself.

What makes you return to work every day?
The joy of being a part of a child’s academic success. There is no greater joy than knowing you helped a child change the trajectory of their future via education.

What programs do you offer at your school?
We offer Accelerated Reading, Accelerated Math, National Elementary Honor Society, National Junior Honor Society, Robotics, and a host of other extracurricular activities.

What are the three steps urban school leaders must follow to in order to create success in their schools?
One, set clear expectations that are communicated to all students, staff and parents on a regular basis. Two, provide unwavering support to teachers, including relevant professional development and instructional guidance. [Three] set goals and celebrate success. All three of these steps should be done consistently in order to be an effective urban school.

What programs or materials do you offer to help administrators at their schools?
I am a principal mentor. As a mentor, I coach new principals on best practices for their schools. I also provide onsite observations and feedback. Lastly, I welcome school administrators to visit my school as we exchange best practices.

How can teachers, administrators, and parents get involved so that they can better teach and lead their schools and students?
Parental involvement is crucial to the success of students. I recommend parents participate in “buddy reading” with their children. This is simply getting two copies of a particular novel and set aside time each night to read with their children. For teachers and administrators, I recommend building relational capacity with students as the main priority.

Photo Credit: Jeremey Cranford

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Principal Patterson Photo Credit: Jeremey Cranford

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Treasure Smith