Black Perspectives; Michael Anderson, Assistant Headmaster at Dorchester High School
Good evening welcome to black perspectives. Twenty five minute weekly feature focusing on black issues information in lifestyles of the communities of Boston and Saul sure. My name is Charles Desmond your host for black perspectives. Tonight I guess is the assistant headmaster at Dorchester High School in Boston in Dorchester I should say. Michael Anderson you know I'd like to say Michael that we really appreciate your coming over and talking with us here at UMass about Dorchester high as we have been very interested in that school. And I would like to know a little bit more about some of the things that you're doing there and how you think the quality of education is improving at Dorchester. Well thank you very much Mr. Desmond. As you know Dorchester high now has a new headmaster who has been on board as a permanent headmaster this year and with his instruction coming on board to Dorchester high school he's brought a lot of programs to the high school. One of those programs course the urban Scholars program that's affiliated with UMass Boston in yourself and other programs that allow students to go into the field for instance for health careers program. The field being Carney
Hospital to learn about how to be you know interested in medicine or in the medical field. Other students are involved in other programs going around the city for instance. There's a program called close up where four students pay by the telephone company are able to go to Washington D.C. for one week. Our onsite program we teach is our company. BI for students who have the opportunity to see D.C. for one week there are several other programs at the high school now that are on board and the future plans for other programs are being slated now for a presentation for next year. The headmaster and the staff of Dorchester high are very much interested in making sure the students are receiving a quality education and of course quality education cannot go on until there is discipline and control. School. So our main focus has been on discipline and control in school. Of course sometimes when you have a reputation in the community and as you know Dorchester has changed over the years from me. But Jerry White population to a. Pajama predominantly black population. You see there's a neighborhood changing naturally as a tourist situation where one student feels less probably
less uncomfortable than another student may feel. But we're seeing changes with the school security with the system that we have with our suspensions and disciplinary measures and alternatives to suspension. We see a change in the attitude of students and in the personnel and we find that the faculty is working hand in hand to make sure that students are receiving quality education. Of course we stress to that the quality education is depend on the students. Important we tell students that if they put nothing into it naturally they get nothing out. That is imperative that they are thinking about what they're doing and go home do their homework. Stress two hours a night. I know students tend to funnel that type of expectation but we have high expectations for our students and students are treated fairly well I think as you know I have. Come to do it's just a high school fairly frequently and have an opportunity to meet with stange Watts and talk about doing some some joint programs with the university in Dorchester high and I think in many respects to a Chester High is a
model institution to examine. It's dealing with the contemporary youth of America today. These are the young people who are urban in nature there. They're probably the best educated in many respects of any generation of kids ever to go into education. They've been totally exposed to the television and radio and everything to global issues you know and they also dealt with some of the most significant social problems confronting America today that being the resolution of a lot of the racial problems and tensions that have divided America for so many years in my visitations to the schools I have been overwhelmed at the water that does exist in the schools. I saw students and classes in the computer classes in the advanced math classes in the language classes. Students in the arts classes I sorry group of disabled students who were downstairs in the gymnasium and you know in a piano program that was being run down there. When I visited the cafeteria there were a group of students that
were working in the cafeteria area learning how to cook I presume and we had to learn how to cook prepare food and to serve food. It's in our best and this is an opportunity for young people to go into this this field restaurant hotel management to learn how to number want to cook and serve food of course to cook to clean up the restaurant so that they're actually serving the teachers it's an area where teachers can go also so it's a multi-purpose situation where students are learning being trained by the teachers and teachers are able to come in at 7:00 enjoy it for a good half hour. That's all we give them to come and sit and enjoy and have a good lunch. I think that a number of the people analysing audience are from the south. Sure. Schools are smaller generally in nature and where the problems of the city have not basically ripe yet I mean they haven't had the industrialization and the types of problems that exist in and in Boston haven't manifested themselves in these communities however these communities are growing in some of the problems that Boston has worked its way through are now starting to crop up in these. Suburban schools
and I think that and I think that perhaps maybe some of the things that were talked about today might be helpful to parents as they're looking at resolving with their teenagers some of the problems that it seems that you would do it has to have been able to get straightened out and get students back on task. Well I would expect and hope that parents would be very much involved in their school. It's so very important that parents because school is a microcosm of the society to be totally involved with their students with their sons and daughters and with the teachers and to comment not just because of a negative situation to come into a school but come in because you want to know about why isn't Johnny getting the why is he getting a B you like to see a parent come in like that because we need more more concerned parents in the school in assisting in afterschool programs extracurricular activities or just to come in to observe. And I think it's important that parents know what's going on in the schools and they want to know that is to become involved either through the parent counselors or whatever particular PTA association that might happen they may have and I think it's important become totally involved. Let me I think I definitely agree with you I think that the more peripatetic patients
have the greater opportunity you have of drawing in those resources. Parents have resources at their disposal. Sometimes parents don't realize that you know the husband may be a mechanic or he may be an electrical engineer or he may be an electrician or maybe a person who drives a truck. Students who are interested young people are interested in adults and what they do and how they make a living whenever and I think that that interaction between a classroom instructor the parent in the child all working together makes a major difference in the quality of life in the school. I'm sure the student feels a lot more comfortable if mom and dad are interested unless the student is in school are doing what he should be doing. Let me ask you a question that is I think on everybody's mind in the United States today and that's the question about about the quality of education that students are achieving today. Obviously the demands in a technological society like ours mean that we have to have better educated people. And I'm wondering how Dorchester what kinds of things are going on at Dorchester.
That you'd like to talk about that deal with the question of the quality of education I know that you've been a classroom instructor. You've been a department head in history and now you serve in the role as the assistant head master so you've seen it from a variety of years I certainly have. I mean what kinds of things what kind of innovations in some areas I presume you're sticking with the basics in doing a better job of that name. OK of course we have to always begin with the basics. It's hard to take a student from level Amos. He's performed well on that level you have to work on level a mixture a level is ascertained and then go into Level B. So in terms of quality of education it's important that our parents be aware of our students report cards for instance a student comes on with their report card. The parent is supposed to sign a report card and bring a report card back to the teacher to acknowledge that the parent has signed it. What happens in a lot of cases is that students don't share with their parents a report card and what the headmaster to adjust the highest turnout is in addition to sending home the report
card. He's enclosing a progress report on their reading scores. And not only does he enclose the progress report including the reading scores but a parent's explanation of what is being done and where the student has achieved and where the students feeling exciter etc. So in addition to the report card the parent of the student at Dorchester high now knows exactly what level the student's reading on whether it's a high level and where they didn't achieve at a high level. So when the parent meetings come up you know after school at the end the report card term a parent can come in to discuss those items with the teacher. I think that's a very good step in the right direction and I hope that other systems around the United States can follow something like that to include that in the report card a special form for parents indicating specifically what stay where the student is that and what level they're on. I think that that's a very outstanding innovation and I think that that's exactly the type of thing that we need to be communicating with other people about parents an A A B A C. There's 33 students in the class they all get a B what does that one use it mean what does it mean and I think that
we need to touch base with the teachers. Right. Yeah as I said as I stated I think that this idea that you're using this pupil progress report in conjunction with the transcript is a good idea can definitely give parents a better insight into the progress of their youngster and how they can. Be more involved in the quality of their own youngsters education. I think that when the headmaster came up with a new plan to include the report card a copy of the pupil progress report. It allows parents like you say to see exactly where the student has been and where they are going. For instance a grade 8 student taking a DRP or CRT whatever type of metropolitan testing that is going to be taking they can see the scores there and it shows the percentile. That is what level of student is achieved. And if the percentile is law they know where they need remediation. If it's high they know that they have to go on to another level. Well I'm. I would like to switch to another subject but I want to tell our listening audience first that you're listening to WM B FM at the University of Massachusetts Boston. We're talking with
Michael Anderson the assistant headmaster at Dorchester high school was talking a lot about the great educational innovations that are happening into a chest high. I'd like to switch gears just a little bit and talk a little bit about the Boston compact. As I said. I have said on a number of occasions wherever I travel whether in Washington Los Angeles Chicago wherever people ask me about the Boston compact and it's exciting and innovative partnership that's that's big that's developing between the secondary schools universities in the private sector and maybe you could talk to us a little bit about how that relationship is working at Dorchester high. I think the whole idea of the of the Boston compact when Superintendent Sperling came out with the idea and other business partners came out the idea is an excellent idea. We've been fortunate Dorchester high because for the last 14 years and I'm just giving that as a random figure. New England telephone company has been totally involved in Dorchester heart before they were asked to come on board by a superintendent or by a community that shows the involvement of knowing a telephone
company. Presently because the New York Times Company is involved in Dorchester high for students this year are going to be able to go to Washington D.C. for one week involved in what they call the close up program. This is a program where students can go and see exactly what's going on in Washington meet politicians attend seminars and be involved. Even on cable television where they can see programs on cable towers and even beyond cable talk to themselves. It's experience that students have come back to the high school reported in the Dorchester Argus and reported in the Bay State Banner about how influential. They felt as a person how they became to feel that they are somebody because they were able to participate in such a trip knowing a telephone company has also promised X number of students positions on entry level. Once they go through the interviews and course they are accepted. This gives them a good pivotal point to begin their business careers. I think it's a good chance for students to go through the interview process to understand what is to be expected of them when they go into business the world of business to apply for a position and I think because the telephone company even target companies position a
Dorchester high it's been very very it's a fine job that they've been doing. And we like to see even more programs come out of the door just a high school involving the noontime phone company. Mr. Adolphus Carol who is our flexible campus coordinator at Dorchester high school has been involved totally with the noontime company and affording kids the opportunity to be involved in business. They've even been able to bring. Other businesses into the high school for a day so students can go around to their desks in oratorio and talk about what they'd like to do with their lives. So a nursing doctor a lawyer is different types of organizations come into the school and speak to the students and they're able to talk to them. And I think it's very important that the college and business peer partners in the Boston public schools become as involved as possible to give the students every opportunity to become involved in business. In your opinion do you feel that that students benefit from this type of exposure that you're having add to it as to why not
all schools are as have had partners that have been involved this is as long as you as it seems to have been in existence. Do you feel that the this that this is contributing in any way to the improvement of the educational programs that you're providing into a test. I think our graduates tell the story when they come back to the high school and shake hands with some of their former teachers and tell them what they're doing and tell them that they appreciated the fact that they were able to have the opportunity to work for the telephone company or for some other business. It tells us a story. It tells us that yes there are students who have been fortunate and have gotten over in the system in terms of being able to apply for positions and receive those positions not that they have worked for them but that they work very hard for them and that they have served as a sort of their survived. They've made it. And they come back and tell us that that tells us how successful or unsuccessful the school is in terms of their graduates who return tell us how successful they are. There is another element in the equation and that is the the the universities do you perceive that. And again I know that a number of things has been
happening between the universe into it. But do you see that the universities can effectively have them play a row with the secondary schools. Many people feel that the college has its own domain and secondly school has its own domain and never the twain should meet. How based on your experience is that just how do you believe that interaction is working now. I think that colleges should be involved in the secondary level because remember where the colleges get their students from. But the secondary level and I think it's important that colleges look to the secondary level even in terms of students who are going to be entering their institution. But students who decide maybe not to enter their institution they have an opportunity to work with the students and to share with them what the realities of the university could be like. I think that because a big if when universities get involved in the secondary level it affords the students an opportunity to see that hey I might have a chance to go to college. I might be able to participate in an urban Scholars Program at Dorchester high. That might make me honorable to participate at UMass Boston or Amherst or whatever and I think that
because universities have been involved to the past compact in past public schools that it's important to continue the relationship. And for those students the possibility of enrolling in their institution upon graduation. We were talking a little while ago in our preproduction discussion you had stated that when you were in high school and definitely when I was in high school they didn't have the types of relationships that these students have today. And I'm trying to look to the future for Dorchester high school. Many of the people in our listening audience would come from Dorchester. They may not live in Dorchester now but they have roots family roots that are still there. They have very fond memories about Dorchester high school. I think that they'd like to know from you know the people at the top. What do you see the future for Dorchester high school do you see it emerging as one of the great public schools in the nation. And if so what do you see. How do you see that happening is it. Is it something anything's going to happen in the next two years the next five years or is it already. Well I think it takes time to develop a good school. For instance when you've stated that you visited our
school I think that more parents should be visiting our school because they need to see what's going on inside the school. It's easy for school to have a reputation of not being a good educational institution because it's easy to say that they're not doing their job. But what about coming to school and seeing what job are doing. I think that parents need to become again more involved in what's going on at the school it's easy to say that that has a bad reputation this happened there that happened there. Things happen in schools all around the nation. It's what's going on inside the school that's not highly publicized about the good educational programs that are effectively working and that students are able to communicate with the faculty and staff about their future aspirations. I think that when people become more humane in the schools and are willing to sit down and talk with students not just to listen but to listen and try to help and give good direction and solid direction. I think that that's very important. You know it's difficult in a large high school. It's easier in a smaller high school because everyone tends to know one another. But after developing years and years of a strict discipline policy and students know what the rules are and what their rights and responsibilities are
once those rules and rights and responsibilities are laid out to the students then they have an opportunity to fail or to succeed. And naturally we expect them to succeed. But it's up to the student to to come to school to feel comfortable being there and to know that he has a future or she has future aspirations for getting out of Dorchester high and going to our higher level in education or continue in the world of business. So it's just not a school for kids who want to go into vocational education for kids who just want to go to UMass Boston or Harvard or wherever they would ask you know where they are aspiring to be. It's important again that the students feel that they're part of the school because once you feel you're part of the school you become more involved. And if you see the number of students that participate in our extracurricular activities you realize that yes students do care and that no matter what is said about their high school they know it's a good high school because they're inside. They know it's the outsiders who haven't been to Dorchester high who hear certain things about what has happened there and the negative things. I want them to think about the positive things and come visit us. You're welcome. Well I hope that. People in our listening audience have
been as unlighted by this discussion as I have been in. I think there are a number of the things that you've discussed have have sort of given a sort of a glimpse of a broad brush perspective on Dorchester High School in there. I think that if we wanted to get a better insight into it that there is a lot to be gained by visiting the school I know that I took the chair of our music department David Patterson to Dorchester high school and we we visited the auditorium and we tracked at length about the development of the choral group that I understand is going to be sort of advertised in recruited for a Jewish of the high end. We were very excited about just the enthusiasm of the people the faculty the teachers there about. The future for Dorchester high that things are happening. Things are progressing. There's a spirit of optimism. I feel that that says that
maybe it reflects something about what's happening in Boston overall and there's more optimism in the city and I think you have to remember too that when you spend a million for one that is the city of Boston to rehab it structure a physical plant like Dorchester high school is indicative to me as a building administrator that they're looking for good things to happen. That is giving the students more eye appealing physical plant in which to situate themselves when they go into the classroom classrooms they have different color schemes around the school. They've just delivered brand new lockers. They have some some fantastic computers that they had Master Stanley swatches brought to the high school through his correlation with other parties. They are renovating the entire physical plant with brand new thermal pane glass. And I think this will make the students feel more comfortable too. It's like sitting in a new car. I say I think the students are going to feel comfortable now coming into Dorchester high where the floors are going to be wobbly. They're going to be straight and they will be able to walk into the classroom without rolling over the floor board so to speak and I think the different colors in the school the color schemes that have been picked up by administrative assistant Miss land and her
community I think is going to make a big big difference. Just the fact that that million dollars is going to the physical plant indicates to me that Dorchester high has an illustrious future looked forward to and of course I'm the eternal optimist. Being in the building 10 years I see a great future for Dorchester high and its students. But I think that that that's the future that we're all concerned about. I think that the people who are listening now in the corporate and business types who are in the greater Boston area need to understand that an institution a school like Dorchester high will be producing will be producing graduates who will be going out into the mainstream of the city of Boston in our suburban communities that are that an investment in a school in the in the personnel and investment in the physical facility in an investment in the students as an investment and an hour an hour of our collective collective future. I particularly want to say that I think looking back on my own experience in high schools if we had had more head men in assisted masses they're as
enthusiastic about the school and seem to be as compassionate about the school that there also is an important factor and I think that we all have to recognize that we have some outstanding administrators working in the schools at this time. I would tend to agree with you Mr. Desmond and mention the fact that our district our district a community superintendent Mrs. Griffith has that compassion within her that she is still trading through the entire District 5 and that that compassion comes directly from the top. From Mrs. Griffith and of course from her immediate supervisor Mr super tennis playing. I think that they're beginning to understand the needs and that those needs are beginning to be realized at Dorchester high school. Well as I said earlier I think that the future for those in Dorchester high school does look extremely optimistic. I want to thank you very much for coming on and sharing some insights with us about the educational process as a whole as well as some specifics on what's happening at do which is to high in some of the exciting innovations that
you all since watching yourself are bringing about there. I know that the students are happier and I know that they're learning a lot more based on my own direct observations. Well thank you very much for inviting us doesn't. Tonight you've been listening to black perspectives. Stay tuned next week we'll be interviewing another exciting personality from my community. I'd like to especially thank our producer of our show Gary Pierre Louis who's an undergraduate student at UMass Boston into our ABL engineer John Hutton for any information regarding tonight's program or if you'd like to know a little bit more about what Mr. Henderson is doing and to attest to how I am asking you to get in touch with our producer Gary Pierre Louis at UMass Boston 9 2 9 7 9 1 9 and I'm sure that he'll be able to arrange for you to to Mr. Anderson or perhaps to invite him to your school to talk about some of the things that are that are happening in Boston in the suburban in this relationship to suburban schools. The broadcast of black perspectives on WNBA FM is made possible by funding from the
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- Host Charles Desmond interviews Michael Anderson, assistant headmaster at Dorchester High School. Anderson discusses the school's new education initiatives including the Urban Scholars, Health Careers, and Close-Up programs. He also discusses Dorchester's demographic changes, the need for more parental involvement in education, the Boston Compact, the need for colleges to partner with high schools, and the bright future of Dorchester High School.
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Guest: Anderson, Michael
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- Chicago: “Black Perspectives; Michael Anderson, Assistant Headmaster at Dorchester High School,” 1984-02-15, WUMB, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed September 20, 2020, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-345-19f4qtf0.
- MLA: “Black Perspectives; Michael Anderson, Assistant Headmaster at Dorchester High School.” 1984-02-15. WUMB, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. September 20, 2020. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-345-19f4qtf0>.
- APA: Black Perspectives; Michael Anderson, Assistant Headmaster at Dorchester High School. Boston, MA: WUMB, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-345-19f4qtf0