‘They Can’t Just Be Average,’ Lifting Students Up Without Lowering The Bar

Ron Brown College Prep

Ron Brown College Prep

“They can’t only be average.”

Charles Curtis is articulate about a roughly 100 young, black group in a initial beginner category during Ron Brown College Prep, a radical new high propagandize in Washington, D.C.


Curtis, a propagandize psychologist, puts it simply: “There is no place in a universe for an normal black person.”

Raising Kings is a three-part array from NPR Ed Education Week. This year-long partnership tells a story of a radical new high propagandize designed privately for immature group of color. Listen to a array here.

So starts Part 2 in a series: Raising Kings: A Year of Love and Struggle during Ron Brown College Prep.

The propagandize is clinging to physic justice, forcing students into worried conversations and face-to-face apologies instead of cessation or detention.

There’s also a high-expectations proceed to academics, best told by a voices of dual maestro teachers.

Schalette Gudger, English teacher

Schalette Gudger

Gudger is a maestro clergyman with 16 years of experience. Early in a year, she tells relatives that she expects a lot from their immature men:

“So, if I’m tough on them it’s since we have high expectations for them. I’m going to be tough on them. Because we learn a denunciation that helps them clear a codes that we’ve been revelation them to switch. … And if they will concede me, we will give them what we have.”

'They Can't Just Be Average,' Lifting Students Up Without Lowering The Bar

In a classroom, Gudger is always pulling her students to puncture deeper. The immeasurable infancy of Ron Brown’s expertise and staff are men. Ms. G, as she’s known, thinks that gives her a singular perspective:

“What we have that works for me is, I’m Mom. So when they come in, they feel a same despotic though amatory sourroundings that they feel during home. So it’s like, ‘OK, we can smile, we can laugh, we can joke, though we know this is critical business. We know that this is what is approaching of a behavior.’ It’s a same thing with Mom. We might giggle and fun and play – we might even be unpleasant – though we know, during a finish of a day, we need to move it behind in. We have a pursuit to do.”

Many of Gudger’s students onslaught with a daily hurdles of poverty. Some have gifted assault and trauma. So she tries to be flexible. A tyro descending asleep, for example, shouldn’t always be taken as an affront. It might prove difficulty during home:

“Some of them are so on corner that they literally do not nap during night. So, if we need a mangle … if you’re gentle adequate here to put your conduct down, Baby, by all means rest.”

Shaka Greene, math teacher

Greene is also a maestro clergyman who, like many of his students, grew adult in poverty.

“I watched my mom work mixed jobs to make certain we ate. There were times we went to propagandize with holes in my shoes. So we get it. That is since we am as tough on them as we am, since we know your resources don’t matter as many as your will and enterprise to be successful.”

Shaka Greene

Greene says he struggles infrequently to find a change between display his students adore and scheming them for a world.

“If we leave high propagandize and we still make a 600 on a SAT, nobody cares how many we were loved. Congratulations, we feel good about yourself. But you’re still reading, essay and counting subsequent average. And we am now a Google exec. And we don’t wish subsequent average. we wish a best of a best.”

Greene’s passion is chess. And he runs a many renouned after-school bar during Ron Brown: chess club. And in a game, he sees a embellishment for these immature men.

“The pivotal to chess, unequivocally a essence of a diversion of chess, are your pawns. If I’m means to get my guaranty all a approach to your final rank, this guaranty can turn any square on a house that we wish it to turn other than a aristocrat or another pawn. Once we learn to value your pawns, we unequivocally start to learn to know and grow during a diversion of chess.”

Our yearlong stating project, “Raising Kings, A Year Of Love And Struggle At Ron Brown College Prep,” concludes subsequent week on a Code Switch podcast and on

Illustrations by LA Johnson.