By Barney Blakeney
Veteran school administrator Henry Darby took the helm at beleaguered North Charleston High School in February where six predecessors have tried to change a culture of challenged academic performance.
North Charleston High with an enrollment of about 522 students in most recently was rated at-risk. Prior to the previous school term, North Charleston’s controversial immediate past principal had been at the school about five years. Discipline is a concern at the school. One day before Darby took the helm several students were arrested by North Charleston police for creating a disturbance on their school bus. A source said one teacher referred 285 offenses to administrators indicating the high level of inexperience among the staff of 61 teachers where only three were minorities.
Darby previously served in a variety of roles in Charleston County School District including as an instructor at both Morningside Middle and Burke High schools. He was a coordinator and administrative assistant at Burke. He left Burke to become an assistant administrator at Fort Dorchester High where he was responsible for the daily implementation of the school district’s policies, procedures, performance standards and objectives, managing and directing the mentoring of new teachers and monitoring and evaluating student achievement and progress.
A member of Charleston County Council since 2004, the resident of the Liberty Hill community in North Charleston is the founder of Citizens Patrol Against Drugs (CPAD) in North Charleston. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Morris College, a Master of Arts from Atlanta University, and a Master of Education and Education Specialist degrees from The Citadel. He brings that hands-on approach to problem solving to his position at North Charleston High also.
In the upcoming schoolyear, Darby said The initiatives planned at NCHS are: 1) Teacher collaboration through authentic, professional learning communities with a focus on alignment of curriculum, instruction, and assessment; 2) To use data to guide instruction; 3) To know where the student is in his/her learning; 4) To place an importance on relationship, relevance, and rigor; 5) A constant theme of high expectations; 6) To provide in-house professional development designed to deal with problems of specific to NCHS; 7) Involve all major stakeholders, including churches, concerned citizens, and major businesses such as Boeing and Volvo; 8) To have class sizes reduced to the possible minimum; 9) To recruit retired educators and college students to assist within the classrooms – particularly reading and math classes; 10) To model teaching for first, second, and third year teachers by administrators; 11) To require all administrators, particular the principal, to be visible within the hallways and classrooms; and 12) To promote the new mission statement of NCHS to graduate 100 percent of its students.