Last year, Breedlove set three goals for MHS
Last year, Principal Brad Breedlove moved from Weddington High School to Monroe. He had previously served as an assistant principal at Monroe High School.
As soon as he was appointed, Breedlove said he and staff began analyzing data from Monroe High School, looking for areas that needed improvement.
“We determined that we would set out on three goals for the school,” Breedlove said.
The goals were to improve academic attendance, to improve the overall discipline and to improve academic achievement.
“Our school plan only has three goals and that is it,” he said. “We really went back to basics.”
One of the programs to improve academics was the creation of the Redhawk Academy.
Breedlove looked at data from eighth grade students who were rising freshmen with Tamara Wade, director of special projects. They looked at students who failed one or both of their end-of-course exams.
“Those exams are sort of the bridges to come over to high school,” Breedlove said. “Unfortunately, not all students pass those exams and they ended up coming to Monroe High School.”
Students were divided into four levels, where level-one students had low scores on reading and math and needed help. Those students attended Redhawk Academy for half of the day in the first semester, getting remedial help in math and reading. Level two students attended the second semester.
“Most of our students did pretty well in the academy and it was at least able to help them as they move into higher-end math,” Breedlove said. Though, he added, they are still gathering data.
In addition, Breedlove spent most of the summer meeting with “at-risk” students and their parents. These are students who either had disciplinary problems, had dropped out and were re-enrolling or were at-risk of dropping out.
“I sat down with each of those students and there were quite a bit, unfortunately,” Breedlove said. He had each student sign a behavior agreement, dealing with attendance, academics and behavior.
To address attendance issues, Breedlove said they basically set up a night school.
“What we were finding is that a lot of our students are very intelligent, obviously” he said. However, he added, for one reason or another they have trouble with attendance, though not because they are bad kids. Some of them take care of siblings because both parents work or are working themselves.
School board policy states that if a student has more than seven unexcused absences a semester they fail. Though students are allowed to recover work, there is a limit on the amount, Breedlove said.
“I can recover that student’s attendance by having them come in after school ... coming in on weekends,” Breedlove said.
Though they cannot recover all of the days, they can catch up about two classes. Students are still behind, but not as far behind, he said.
However, the flexibility is not a free pass. Students cannot participate in school activities if they are working to recover.
“Students know they are being punished, but at the same time are grateful that we’ve allowed them to come in and earn a couple of credits,” he said.
He said the program has been “somewhat successful” this year and it looked like they were able to save a lot of students, though the data was not in.
While working with at-risk children to help them graduate, Breedlove does not want to forget about the successful students.
“We’re really trying to do some alternative things to help our struggling students ... but at the same time reward our students who are doing what they’re supposed to do,” he said. “You can’t forget about those kids — those kids need to be celebrated.”
Breedlove described Monroe as a “diamond” school, referring to a diamond in the rough.
“We have a lot of pride and we want to show our pride and we mean business about education,” Breedlove said.
So far their scores are up and the perception data among teachers, students and parents is up. Their average ACT score jumped up two points.
“We are beginning to compete with other school when it comes to academics,” Breedlove said. “We’re heading in the right direction.”
Breedlove hopes to make Monroe High School as known for academics as it is for athletics.
Over the summer, they will look at what they did and analyze what worked and what did not as they collect data.
“We have amazing students and we need to recognize them,” Breedlove said. “I love this school. It’s good to come home. The students here are awesome and this is just a wonderful community to work for.”
Superintendent Mary Ellis was instrumental in Breedlove’s assignment to Monroe.
“(Breedlove) did wonderful work at Monroe High School and had done tremendous things at Weddington, but needed another challenge,” Ellis said. She said she spoke with him about moving to Monroe after being name d superintendent.
“(Breedlove) has truly transformed those children to believing they can do anything,” Ellis said. “It is amazing to me what those children are doing. Truly amazing. Great things are happening at Monroe High School.”