KPLU's Sound Effects has created a wonderful, vital piece of work in Renaissance Beach, a story about the turnaround of Rainier Beach High School. It is told thru the eyes of staff and students and is truly compelling.
The turnaround effort — fueled by a $4.3 million federal grant; and
centered around a rigorous college-prep curriculum, the International
Baccalaureate or “IB” — is still a work in progress.
District officials reported an 84 percent graduation rate to the state
for Rainier Beach last year, KPLU has learned. If the state officially
confirms those numbers next spring, that would mean the school’s
graduation rate will have rebounded more than 30 points in just four
Two of my favorite parts are teacher/IB mentor Colin Pierce and Jocelyn Alexander Shaw "Shawshank," a no-excuses teacher from Chicago Public Schools who, if the work is not done, lets the students know her disappointment.
I especially liked Pierce's dogging one student and saying that he believed more in the student than the student believed in himself.
Reporter Kyle Stokes put in the time to get to know this school.
I visited Rainier Beach more than 40 times during the 2014-15 school
year, and I can attest the work is not over. Getting students to show up
regularly and on-time, especially during first period, has been a
challenge. Students who have embraced the more rigorous curriculum have
found it difficult to keep up with the added workload. Some teachers
have admitted to being soft on deadlines for even important assignments.
It's fine reporting and it's proof that yes, believing in students, supporting students and giving them the rigor that will push them onto better things is possible.