By Jonathan Seiden, M.Ed. candidate, Harvard Graduate School of Education (File photo)
To the editor:
When I was a student at Annandale High School, T.C. Williams was synonymous with failure. After its re-accreditation, T.C. Williams is a lesson to struggling schools everywhere. When it comes to school success, teacher quality is never the whole story. Teachers are incredibly important to the success of students, but conflating student performance with teacher performance is a harmful oversimplification.
T.C. Williams highlights this point exactly. Former principal Suzanne Maxey had $6 million in federal funds to turn around a failing school. While she did implement some professional development for teachers, the majority of her efforts went towards more interesting changes.
Maxey brought in additional counselors, social workers, deans and a new special education program. Many students at T.C. Williams rely on school for their success. These additional personnel provided students with both academic and non-academic support to help them succeed.
Maxey’s changes worked because she looked at the needs of her students rather than just the performance of her teachers. T.C. Williams is a lesson for all schools. We need to focus on students and their needs and stop assuming that school and student failure is the result of teacher failure.