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October 30, 2014

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the turnaround:

Mojave students, parents embracing school’s new direction

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Paul Takahashi

Mojave High School Principal Antonio Rael directs students to their respective homerooms on Monday, Aug. 29, 2011.

The Turnaround: Mojave High School

KSNV examines the Clark County School District's turnaround efforts at Mojave High School.

Mojave "Reclaim Your Future"

Mojave High School Principal Antonio Rael and Dean of Students Nathalie Burgess drive to an at-risk, Launch slideshow »

Since the day the staff was hired for this year, we have been saying that we know there are great kids on the campus of Mojave High School. Not surprisingly, the kids are proving us right on a daily basis.

The students are rising to and meeting the expectations we have placed on them. Although it’s nearly impossible to find common ground among 2,000 students, it’s been refreshing to have conversations with kids about the positive changes they see at Mojave.

We had more than 40 families attend our first parent advisory committee to have their voices heard. We have said since the start of this process that a huge key in the school’s turnaround is our partnership with kids, families and the community. Members of our community have come to us and let us know that they see a positive difference in the campus’ physical environment and also notice how polite and great our students are as well.

A company working with us on providing staff development and helping our administrative team implement our School Improvement Grant was recently on campus for a three-day site visit. We were thrilled when they told us they have worked with several high schools across the country, as well as dozens of middle schools, but they believe that Mojave High School has the most polite students of any of them. The kids look them in the eye and say hello and offer to help. It is awesome to have “outsiders” say what we have been saying since day one: Mojave has great kids!

One of the major school goals is to improve our graduation rate. We know that in the past we haven’t done enough to make sure every Mojave student walks across the stage to get that diploma. It’s disheartening to all of us, and we know that our kids deserve better. It’s up to us to give them every opportunity to graduate.

With that in mind, Mojave High School participated in the first Clark County School District Reclaim Your Future event. Forty staff and community members went looking for those students we know are zoned for Mojave but are not currently attending school. It’s too early to know the impact of this event, but we are confident that it is an important step in keeping kids in school.

We have also implemented an online credit retrieval classroom that allows students to retake classes so they can receive the credits they need to

graduate. We are also privileged to have an Academy for Individualized Study classroom on our campus as another avenue to help students make up lost credits.

At Mojave, we are well aware that the easy part is behind us. We were fortunate to have CCSD Facilities come in and clean up our campus. The students are starting to understand the expectations. Teachers and staff are excited to be working with our kids. But all of those things don’t change the fact that now the hard work begins. We have made a promise to the community that we are going to provide a quality education for our students.

We will continue to repeat our mantra: Success! Nothing Less!

Greg Cole is assistant principal at Mojave High School.

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