Feb. 12, 2013
John A. Wall Jr. is in his first year as principal of West Charlotte High School.
West Charlotte is a place with, in some old-timers’ view, a storied history; a place with, in many current residents’ eyes, a sorry present; and, in the eyes of this New York-born veteran educator, a promising future.
He claims to have no whiz-bang programs that will turn West Charlotte around and reinvigorate students’ interest in learning. The programmatic change he mentioned for next year was reviving the choral program that a previous principal axed during the recession.
Instead, he promises the harder road of focusing on individual students’ needs, and weighing how he responds to contradictory mandates. Example: He would like to return students to class when they head for the property line, he says, but when they refuse to turn around, he says, his only option is to suspend them. He is not amused by the irony.
He pledges to support teachers who are struggling to get better at their calling. He argues that “data” is what can drive improvements in student achievement. He carefully skirts controversial educational issues, like funding and testing, with an I’ve-got-to-follow-the-law stance that probably comes of many years in principalships. With this appearance at a community group, he emphasizes the ways the community can help with the turnaround effort.
Wall’s visit to the Forum, originally scheduled Nov. 27, was delayed due to a death in his family. HIs assistant principal, George Harden, took notes on Nov. 27 and much of the content of Wall’s introductory remarks today were designed to respond to questions raised Nov. 27. A compilation of what was said Nov. 27 around the topic of “today’s student” is available here. (The video was designed to solicit student reaction to how their elders portrayed them; as of this day, no student reaction has been received.)
Wake Public Schools honored Wall as Principal of the Year in 2009 while he was principal of North Garner Middle. He was principal at Southeast Raleigh Magnet High when CMS Supt. Heath Morrison sent him to West Charlotte last summer. His degrees are from N.C. Central, St. Augustine’s and N.C. State.
Below, in five pieces, is a record of Wall’s comments and the answers to the questions raised from the floor.