Principal: ‘The truth is that many Americans do not see value in investing in boys of color’
Nikkia Rowe, principal at Renaissance Academy in West Baltimore. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)
Khalil Bridges is an extraordinary young man. My Post colleague Theresa Vargas wrote about his struggles graduating from the Renaissance Academy High School, one of Baltimore’s most troubled and violence-wracked schools where three young men lost their lives this past school year. After the story’s publication, hundreds of people donated to a GoFundMe account set up for him.
Nikkia Rowe is the principal of Renaissance. She arrived there nearly three years ago, and knew immediately that the students there needed for more than academics. Vargas writes:
“These kids don’t look like kids,” she told her staff at the time. “They look like vets coming home from foreign wars. At any given moment, something can trigger them.”
In the following post, Rowe writes movingly about her school and the challenges she, her staff and her students face every day, a situation common in many schools around the country. She also writes about what she believes policymakers must do to help these students.
By Nikkia Rowe
Renaissance Academy is a traditional high school (grades 9 through 12) situated in the West Baltimore community of Upton/Druid Heights. The school is a second home to 287 students who come from the poorest, most violent and blighted neighborhoods in the city.
Our students walk through the doors of the schoolhouse each day carrying a crushing and ever-evolving emotional load that interferes with learning readiness. On any given day, one student may have been kicked out of the house after a fight with mom and slept outside, one could have witnessed a stabbing in the housing development courtyard, and one could be experiencing a week-long headache caused by a tooth desperately in need of dental attention.