Principal's Message

Letter to the Community:

Now more than ever, during this time of dramatic change, it is so important for us to get back to focusing on the day to day programs that are going to have the greatest impact on those that matter most; our students. With so much legislation impacting teachers, principals, unions and ultimately all of our educational resources, it is so important that we are offering programs in our schools that are going to have a positive impact on our students.  It has been great to see the increased number of initiatives aimed at helping our struggling learners. North Lake, like so many other schools, has carefully crafted study skills classes for struggling students, Odysseyware support classes for those struggling in multiple subjects, ACT prep classes, as well as successful peer mediation and mentoring programs. A positive behavior support program is up and running and there are incentives around every corner. All of these initiatives in order to support those that are not finding success in our traditional high schools. All of these are successful programs in a successful high school with a very positive reputation. All of these programs and many more to help our struggling learners.

The data shows that these programs are working, and yet the data also shows us that we still have students behind in credit. Some that are behind 6-10 credits with no hope of graduating and others who have completely given up. Some who cannot wait until their 16th birthday so that they can drop out, and still others that only come because of the free breakfast and lunch. There are others that do not really give graduation a second thought because it is not valued in the home. Some students are dealing with drug and alcohol dependency and abuse. Many have been hit hard economically and are having to work to help support their families. Many more come from broken homes with broken or non-existent support systems. Most, if not all, are discouraged because school as they know it has not worked for them. We are dealing with all of these issues in most of our schools and there is no easy answer. I want to take just a moment to briefly share with all of you what we are doing in order to try and meet the needs of these students, the ones that have not been helped by all the other “support” programs.

Success breeds success and we capitalized on a great deal of positive momentum stemming from the success of last year’s students. We aggressively targeted students that we thought fit the program. We took the time to hold parent informational nights, make phone calls home, and hold an in school (during the day) informational assembly highlighting why they should be part of this program. The students were energized by something different. They were energized by the attention. They were energized by hope. Parents stepped up and wanted their students involved. We had nearly 150 applications complete and turned in. We took the time and interviewed students and their parents so that they knew what they were getting into. They are having success in both their online and teacher led courses. They are excited about school and looking forward to earning back lost credit and making up for lost time. Why? Why the dramatic change? What kind of “magic” is this? What is the answer? Keep reading!

While I know we do not have “the” answer, we have what is working for us. It is simple, yet complex. There is more than one answer. It started with the commitment of our staff.  We have a passionate staff that has forged a “motherly” personal relationship with all 148 students that are in the program. We know their names and what makes them tick. We know the baggage that they bring to school and we have forged a positive relationships with all students. Each of them committed to the program, to each other, and to the students. Each of them patient. Each of them caring. Each of them willing to take on the challenge to differentiate lessons in order to reach the hard to reach student. Each willing to have the loving, caring , critical conversations with their students that are so necessary. Each of them flexible, and each of them willing to do “Whatever it Takes” to see that their students are a success.This is followed up with a counselor that is solely committed to these  students. She hand scheduled all of them after spending her summer looking over their transcripts deciding what they should take online and what they should take with a carefully selected alternative education teacher.  What else has contributed to the programs success so far? The teachers do their best to mix in project based learning when they can.  As for our students, they have built a family at school, a support system that looks out for one another, and they now feel that they have what it takes to graduate high school and have a successful life. They have been given hope and they are running with it.

So the answer is simple, yet complex. There are no shortcuts. It’s blood, sweat and tears. It is everything, and it might be different for each student. If nothing else, we have to over resource these students. Small class sizes. Dramatically different instruction. A counselor that is available to them when they need them. The right teachers. Volunteer opportunities. Support structures. Skill builders. Confidence builders. Simply put….people that believe in them, willing to do whatever it takes so that they can believe in themselves.

  School Principal image
Chad Johnson
School Principal
(586) 285-8780
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North Lake High School

23340 Elmira
St. Clair Shores, MI 48082
Main Tel: (586) 285-8780
Attendance: (586) 285-8782
Fax: (586) 285-8783

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