School: John P. Freeman Optional School
School District: Shelby County Schools
City, State: Memphis, TN
Randi Scott-Howard was nominated by an anonymous colleague
Ms. Scott-Howard has been a principal at John P. Freeman Optional School for five years. She believes that students should be exposed to a high-quality education, and she has worked to develop a culture where all stakeholders collaborate for the benefit of every child. In 2016, her school earned the Blue Ribbon Award under her leadership.
She believes in teacher leadership, and she supports teachers to lead at the district, state, and national level. She provides them with opportunities to help novice and veteran teachers enhance their pedagogy knowledge. Also, she allows teachers to share their best practices with other professionals through classroom visits and professional development experiences. Often, her teachers are called on by other professionals to extend their knowledge to other organizations such as: Teach Plus, NNSTOY, and U.S. Department of Education.
Ms. Scott-Howard has a teacher leader on her staff who has been selected as a 2018 Global Teacher Prize Finalist and another teacher who is a 2018-2019 Milken Awardee. She permits teachers to have a voice so they can shape decisions at the school, and she has implemented a Teacher Advisory Board. She believes that teachers need to stay in the classroom for students to have access to effective practitioners.
The school culture and climate is essential to her. She wants students, parents, and staff to feel welcome in the school community. Her open-door policy allows all key stakeholders to discuss their concerns and share suggestions for the benefit of the school. She supports parental activities at the school to support academic excellence such as: Muffin for Mom, “Nacho” Your Ordinary Dad, and Literacy Night.
Ms. Scott-Howard believes in developing the whole child to accommodate different modalities. She has permitted educators to spearhead enriched activities to help students achieve at the highest level. Last year, for example, many girls at the school faced with social and emotional challenges. Girl referrals had increased, so an organization called “Rubies” was created to support the girls in her school. Girls aged 8-13 can join Rubies, an all girls’ group. The girls meet monthly to receive help with self-awareness, managing emotions, feelings, showing empathy, and forming relationships with others. The school sponsors an annual out-of-town trip to help them apply the skills, knowledge, and disposition that are imbedded in this program. Since the implementation of Rubies, the female discipline rate dropped 1.9%. The girls have learned how to interact with their peers.
She exposes her students to STEM to ensure that students are equipped to solve problems in the real-world by thinking critically and creatively. Students are engaged in the scientific method and engineering design challenges. They are encouraged to ask questions and develop their understanding by researching various theories and inquiry-based lessons. She has helped implement a STEM Club to address the needs of minority students and girls interacting with STEM. She has also approved an annual STEM Fest at the school to motivate and encourage students to enter STEM-related careers. Several John P. Freeman students have become STEM-related professionals.
To conclude, Ms. Scott-Howard is a leading professional who believes in fostering relationships with the entire community in which her school resides. She cares about the well-being of all students, teachers, and parents. She believes it takes the entire community to enhance student learning. Ms. Scott-Howard provides resources and materials to make sure that students and teachers have what they need to be successful each day. She makes sure that her school community has a growth mindset for students to achieve globally. To that end, she is a LifeChanger in her community because she has made a difference in so many lives.