By Barney Blakeney
Bernard Chisolm and Kevin Williams are among more than a dozen volunteers at North Charleston High School who applaud Principal Henry Darby for incorporating some positive enhancements that appear to push forward progress at the school.
Darby has been principal at North Charleston High since 2017. Under Darby’s administration,the school’s graduation rate within two years has gone from 59.6 percent to 76.6 percent. Last school year, only two students qualified for dual enrollment (students who also take courses at Trident Technical College). This year, 27 students qualify. And for the first time in nine years, North Charleston High’s ROTC program has received an average rating. Williams believes all that’s come about because of Darby’s leadership.
Darby returned to CCSD in 2017 from Dorchester District 2 where he served as Assistant Principal at Fort Dorchester High School in North Charleston. While at Fort Dorchester, Darby was responsible for the daily implementation of the school district’s policies, procedures, performance standards and objectives. And he managed and directed the mentoring of new teachers and monitored and evaluated student achievement and progress.
Prior to joining the administration at Fort Dorchester, Darby served in a variety of roles in CCSD including as an instructor at both Morningside Middle and Burke High School. Before leaving Burke and going to Fort Dorchester High, he was a coordinator and administrative assistant at Burke.
It’s that experience Williams said helped the North Charleston native be more sensitive to the needs of North Charleston High’s students. A founder of Citizens Patrol Against Drugs (CPAD) in North Charleston, co-founder of CPAD II with the City of Charleston, co-founder of the United Black Men of Charleston County and a member of the Liberty Hill Improvement Council, Darby understands what it takes to reach high school students. Part of that is a presence of positive male role models. Some 15 UBMCC members several times weekly volunteer as monitors and mentors at the school, Williams said.
And Darby recruits others to help. Chisolm, a retired Charleston County government administrator who has volunteered at the school about a year, says the change in the atmosphere at the school is apparent this year. Students seem more energized, have more direction and talk about goals, he said.
“When kids see you care about them, they go to another level,” Chisolm said. “They see that Darby cares because he brings others in to mentor and help them. They’re respectful and respond.”
While Darby would not comment for this story, Williams said Darby consistently emphasizes his 44 teachers and CCSD Superintendent Dr. Gerrita Postlewait play vital roles in the students’ success. “They’re the ones who deserve the credit,” Williams said quoting Darby. “They daily reinforce the school’s on-site goals, he says.”