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“Together we can, together we will.”

 

This motto has driven the students,
staff, families and supporters of Arlington
Community High School
through their first year back with Indianapolis
Public Schools. The school was assigned state intervention status in 2011 after
consistently struggling, but this year a team of IPS administrators, educators
and support staff seized the opportunity to renew the once abounding pride in
and around the school. Together they could, and together they did!

 

“It’s been an all-hands effort from
staff, our community, alumni and faith-based organizations to ensure we reached
the point where we could operate well as a school,” said Principal Stan Law.
“We had to take some time and really focus on building those relationships.”

 

One of the ways Law built on the
Arlington pride was by hiring several alumni on his staff. Dean Brian Dinkins –
Arlington Class of 1996 – was delighted to return to his alma mater.

 

“The school has dealt with so much
transition in recent years,” said Dinkins. “When I was an Arlington student the
principal had already been here 15 years, teachers had taught my cousins,
taught my aunties and uncles, and so when you have that stability then you
already create a level of accountability and relationships when you hear your
family talk about the staff. I think it’s phenomenal having the ability to
bring alumni in and give students a picture of what it could look like.”

 

Building relationships has been the real
key to successfully developing a positive culture and climate at Arlington.
When students and staff first showed up in the fall, they really didn’t know
each other. It took time and commitment to build positive relationships and
trust.

 

“Sharing our experiences and making
personal connections with the students have really made a difference,” said
Dinkins.

 

Principal Law also took steps to ensure
Arlington staff members were supported and equipped with the training and tools
needed to foster success. Teachers received targeted supports, from classroom
management training to Positive Behavior Intervention Supports certification
and workshops with Peace Learning Center to gain insight on new ways to build
rapport with students and maximize valuable instructional time.

 

Alumni groups and other organizations
have stepped up to provide mentoring opportunities for Arlington students as
they work to continue growing as citizens of the community. One group – Save
Our Sisters – created a sorority-style support system for a group of 8th
grade girls. All of the young ladies have seen significant gains in their
academics and in their interactions outside of the classroom. The
administrative team plans to seek additional programming and opportunities to
support students next school year.

 

“It’s been phenomenal for kids to connect
with people outside who can let them know this is a community school and that
our neighbors aren’t only concerned about their academic growth, but also who
they are as people.”

 

The excellence of Arlington’s scholar-athletes
has also helped to boost a sense of pride and togetherness for students, staff
and families. The Knights’ boys basketball team won sectionals for the first
time since 1974, the girls volleyball and basketball teams also experienced
great success and the Arlington football team finished 7-3 this season!

 

All of the positive efforts of the
Knights have paid off greatly. Earlier this spring, the Indiana State Board of
Education voted unanimously to maintain Arlington’s status within the
Transformation Zone of IPS, meaning the students, staff and families of
Arlington will not experience additional leadership transitions in the coming
school year! We are thrilled to see the hard work of this school community
applauded by our state leadership.

 

“When you walk into the building you feel
like you’re part of a family,” former Arlington educator and community advocate
Carole Craig told the State Board of Education at a public hearing on
Arlington’s future last month. “Mr. Law and his team are doing a fantastic job
of turning around the school. I’ve seen tremendous gains. We’ll see so many
Arlington graduates who will stay in the Arlington community to make it a
better place to live.”

 

“To me, being a Knight means being part
of a family,” said Law. “It’s all about supporting success, hard work and
teaching kids how to accomplish the dreams that they have. Together we can,
together we will!”