Lots of turnover at an under-performing urban high school is not an asset. East St. Louis Senior High school has seen four different principals since 2010, and the school’s test scores are an embarrassment: Only 5 percent got a college-ready 21 or higher on the ACT; only 4 percent met and none exceeded standards on the state assessment.
So maybe, just maybe there’s hope for East Side’s 1,600 students and 311 teachers in the newest principal, Justin Moore.
“When you look at the state testing data, you would think that you’re walking into an abyss. I’m just going to be honest,” Moore said. “... So I was really taken aback when I walked into the facility because I had not toured the school before I came and saw that the school is fabulous.”
He is used to schools with no assets: crumbling buildings where instructional technology is pencil and paper, chalk and slate. East St. Louis has a beautiful new high school and plenty of technology, with every student expected to have a Chromebook in the fall.
He sees potential in the graduation rate, which increased from 63 percent in 2012 to 73 percent last year.
And he seems to be coming from the right place for the right reasons. He became an administrator after seeing six different administrators in his first six years.
He intends to stay around. He intends to be around, in the classrooms observing lessons, at the sporting events trying not to be the loudest fan.
Moore has a tough task ahead of him, but he truly seems to like kids and wants to see them succeed at life and to lift the community.
Anyone can find the results of failure by East St. Louis schools. Someone special is needed to see students’ and staff’s potential. Everyone has something to gain from their success.