“I believe that the goal of a principal is to be the face of the school and the heart of the school, and the way that you do that is by creating those relationships, and not just with the kids.”
After meeting with East Chapel Hill High School’s new principal, Kenneth Proulx, anyone would see that the above statement truly encompasses what he hopes to bring to East in the coming years. As an educator whose last job saw a school from its opening to its subsequent eight years, it’s evident Proulx values building relationships.
Coming from Holly Grove Middle (as well as other schools in North Carolina and New York), Proulx is going into his 26th year as an educator. While he has worked in some high schools, its still fairly new territory to him because much of his time in education has been spent in middle or elementary schools.
“In middle school the teachers walked the kids to lunch and they sat by class…the first day I kind of had an idea what was going to happen…but you know it was quite different than I’m used to… Here I walk around and there’s not an adult in the foreseeable sight and kids are doing what you would expect them to do, you know, what the expectations are. I think that’s probably the biggest [difference], is the freedom for kids to move and not needing as much direct supervision as I’m used to.”
Along with stronger relationships, there are a few other notable things Proulx wants to change about East, among them the achievement gap between African American/Latino students and white/Asian students. He proposes a goal of a higher African American/Latino presence in honors and AP courses to increase equity in curriculum opportunities and ultimately academic achievement. But he isn’t done there. He wants to pause looking at the school and start focusing on students.
“I’ll give you the overarching philosophy that I have. If we keep looking at it as a subgroup issue, then we’re looking at a macro issue. What we did at Holly Grove and what we’re starting to do here is looking at an individual student issue…When you start to get micro and go straight to the students, that’s where we receive improvement.”
And he has the stats to back it up. Based on test scores provided by the state in 2017, greatschools.org says that at Holly Grove Middle “disadvantaged students…are performing about as well as other students in the state…”. Proulx words his strategy as “More than just saying, ‘it’s this group of students,’ we’re saying, ‘This is the student’ and ‘what are we going to do to help that student be successful?’”.
Strong relationships also play a role in Proulx’s solutions to other problems at East, such as mental health issues and lack of school spirit. Proulx is very dedicated to this mission, saying that working with kids is truly the most enjoyable part of his job. While East is a stand out school, Proulx has a plan and the experience to match. In other words, challenge accepted.
By Madeline Brooks, Satire Editor