Parent and taxpayer response

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Englewood Schools Tour: 5th Stop Dwight Morrow High School


Dorian Milteer is principal of Dwight Morrow High School. Dr. Carlisle called him as we all climbed out of the school bus. We waited outside for him to greet us and conduct the campus tour. As we entered the main hallway I was astounded at how dark and dismal it was. A former classmate and now coach of the basketball team sat in the far right corner against the wall. He wore a sweat suit in the traditional maroon and white Raiders colors. I did not recognize him until he approached me as we left the main office. I could not see him there in the darkly lit corner. The principal said it was because there are no windows. There were no windows in 1969 either, but the hallway was not that dark. There was not sufficient light to photograph any of the historic plaques in the lobby. Certainly with the many advancements in technology we should be able to light a hallway. The lack of illumination made me uneasy standing in the vestibule of my own Alma Mater. The dismal climate created by a lack of light should be rectified immediately.

Inside the office this poster was the first thing I noticed. The Quote of the Week stands in the center of the office. "Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it." Marian Wright Edelman.
At right, Walter Jones looked on as we observed a Math class that was described as inclusive, because it was a mixed level group. There were 2 teachers, one for the content area and one for in class support. It was stressed that the in class support person aides everyone in the class when needed. The teacher made a mistake in writing a problem on the chalkboard and was corrected by a student. One must conclude that the student was paying attention and clearly understood the lesson.

 It should be noted that the upstairs hallway is more brightly lit than downstairs. We spent some time in the library/media center that is being remodeled. As a student, that was my favorite room in the entire school. I loved sitting on the window seats and peering out the windows. It was a great place to read and study. Some panels in the room are being torn out altogether, because of decay and insects in the plaster behind the wood.
The room is filled with old books and furniture that will probably be discarded. The contractors were working busily as we visited. The air was thick with the smell of plaster and other chemicals used in the renovation process.
The stuffy area was a mess, but it was good to see the work being done. I was present at several meetings when our then Superintendent decided that we did not need libraries. I remember asking him if it was possible to take a computer screen to the many places a book could go. He did not have an answer for me. He was permitted to single handedly dismantled the libraries. As I reflect on my question, I realize that it is entirely possible now, but not affordable.

In contrast to the dismal and dark entrance to the main building, what used to be Martin Luther King Jr. Hall (Academy@Englewood) is a brightly lit area. The student commons area is located directly to the left of the modest lobby area. The commons area was mostly empty. There was no real worry of getting students in pictures, because they were not seated in the study area. I was concerned about the vast, bright emptiness so I asked the question. I wanted to know if students from the traditional High School were allowed to use this area. I was assured that they would be made welcome as long as they were well behaved. I later learned that is not possible, because DMHS students are on a totally different schedule and would never be able to show how well behaved they are or are not. In retrospect the brightness of the area at right made me realize that a good coat of paint would also help to brighten the hallways of DMHS. A fellow visitor was well known by the Commons area attendant. They embraced and posed for a photograph. Another point of reference, DMHS does not have a common area.

We made our way upstairs to Dr. Hall's World Studies class. He was described as being the type of teacher who might very well teach in a college or University. That description was very interesting given the size of his room. The room was so tiny that the students were literally sitting on top of each other. There was no doubt that the Dr. knew exactly what he was doing. A student was asked to explain the day's lesson. She responded with the lesson's objective without hesitation. They were watching and reacting to a slide projected on a small screen. Book bags were stacked against a wall making it difficult to find space to stand. There was no air. Being ashmatic and diabetic, I was forced to leave almost immediately. As I stepped into the hallway, I remembered the room. It was formerly a book closet back in the days when numerous textbooks needed storing. "Our best and our brightest" were being instructed by a college level teacher with a Doctorate Degree in a book closet. I suggested to both Dr. Carlisle and Mr. Milteer that Dr. Hall should have a larger classroom for the comfort of  himself and his students.

We were running out of time. Dr. Carlisle had devoted most of his day to us. The Bio Medical lab was the final destination on our tour. The teacher, Claire Kennedy did not have a class and spent the time discussing the HS Musical. Coming from a district where the Arts had enjoyed a degree of distinction before the Governor's cuts I was  not impressed. Englewood has not embraced the Performing Arts. This was evident in the showing made by dancers who appeared at the last school board meeting for the primary reason of collecting money for tickets. It was not  a temptation to purchase, because although they wore their Capezio heels and dress rehearsal costumes they were reluctant to perform anything. They also giggled an awful lot in a way that trained student perfomers seldom do.

Back at Liberty School where the board offices are located. Dr. Carlisle was asked for a follow up meeting with all persons from the tour. He rushed off to his duties and the visitors conducted a meeting in the parking lot. We all decided to request a meeting with Dr. Carlisle. He has agreed to a follow up meeting. As of now I do not know the date or time. I assume his secretary will contact us all soon.

On the right  is a photo of our original tour group. We  also had a meeting in the parking lot after our visit. I recommend the tour to anyone interested in learning about Englewood's schools. The tour was referred to as a "Dog and Pony Show". The concept is very understandable, because it was superficial. What else could it be? I am glad that I participated. I would like to suggest that all members of the Board of Education take the same tour. This time the Eagle School upstairs from the Board offices should be included. The Vincent K. Tibbs Child Development Center is a feeder school for the Kindergarten program at Quarles Child Development center and should  also not be ignored.