Mayor Dwight Jones, in an unprecedented burst of competence, said that he will determine what is required to have an excellent school system, the cost of which will then be his budget. This rationale is unknown in modern politics. Wondrous!
The Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce has a program in which concerned residents can shadow school principals for half a day. Last year I shadowed Beverly Britt of John Marshall High School; this year, David Hudson of Linwood Holton Elementary. The experiences were similar: revealing, profound and transforming.
Trying to describe the situation, what comes to mind is personality-driven as well as systemic. Both principals are very special people, able to remember everyone's name and who is supposed to be in which of the myriad programs available, which are designed to be student-centered in addressing needs. Everyone's performance is data-driven, adjustments made as information indicates.
I tried to find out if Superintendent Yvonne Brandon was the leadership that made such wonderful schools, but could not. Two exceptional schools, however, are no accident. Somebody got it right.
I'm a grumpy old man, generally disappointed with all things governmental, and critical to a fault. I found nothing in either school that could be improved upon. They were clean, orderly and happy. Excellent instruction was rampant. I'm not privy to what waste may occur outside those classrooms. But I am confident that we are getting every nickel's worth within those doors.