Case Study 3: Beachwood High School
In 2010, Beachwood High School hired Dirk Dagger as principal. The previous principal was beloved Phyllis Knowles who worked at Beachwood for two years. Prior to Phyllis was Joe Gates who left his first principalship after only two years. Preceding to Joe, Lonna Self led the high school for four years and was forced out by the board. All of the principals lived outside the local community and commuted long distances to work. Dirk's two assistant principals, or AP's, were Frank Fischer, a young, highly talented former business education teacher for six years, in his second year as AP. The second AP was Sara Shad, a 28 year veteran English teacher at the high school, in her fourth year as AP. The administration was aware that culture changes existed in the school with the continued influx of Arabic families into Dearborn Heights.
Beachwood High School demographics have changed over the last 10 years. Located in urban Dearborn Heights next to the city of Dearborn, Michigan, Beachwood School District operates three elementary schools (grades K-4), one middle school (grades 5-8), one high school (grades 9-12), and several Pre-K programs. As of 2010, K-12 student enrollment was approximately 3,400, with a teaching staff of 171 and other support staff of 155.The student to teacher ratio was 19.54. The Dearborn Heights area consisted of three public schools, one charter school, and one catholic school. There were approximately 26,000 residents who lived in the Beachwood School district. The neighboring city of Dearborn is home to the largest concentration of Arab Americans in the United States, with over 40,000. Many immigrants came to the area in the early-to-mid-20th century to work in the automo...
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...t, went with concerns about the new administrator. Dagger would be told of the concerns and meetings, then taunt and pressure the staff members for standing up for students.
Principal Dagger set his sights on disbanding the most powerful and influential group in the high school, the counselors. The counselors made progress under former Principal Knowles in addressing the need for a certified ESL program and more interpreters. Over the last couple of years, a transient student population emerged with nearly 150 students arriving at enroll that were mainly Arabic and ESL students. Many of the schools publications sent home were written in English and not readable by the immigrant parents. The counselors tried to addresses this issue before Daggers arrived and were surprised by the superintendents response, "they are to conform to us, we are not conforming to them".
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