(Ron Travis with Beverly Emory at Carver last year.)
School officials say a new Carver High School principal could be selected as early as this summer.
“My biggest need and requirement there is that we have to have somebody who has experience and we have to have somebody who understands the Carver community, someone who will commit to staying at Carver for a long period of time,” said Superintendent Beverly Emory. “The need for the Carver community is to have some stability there.”
Ronald Travis, the school’s current principal, is departing at the end of the school year to head to Main Street Academy, an alternative school that serves students in grades 6-12 who have been booted from their regular schools because of behavioral issues.
Travis, a product of the Happy Hill Gardens public housing community, said the decision to leave Carver was his own and difficult to make.
“I am saddened, but when an opportunity like this presents itself, it’s so unique that one has to take it. …Even though I hate leaving Carver, I’m also excited about the fact that I’ll be able to deal with children from throughout the county,” said Travis, who served as an assistant principal at Carver from 2002 to 2005 and then from 2009 to 2012, when he succeeded Nathaniel Barber, who led the school for three years.
Carol Montague-Davis led the school before Barber; she left after four years to become an assistant superintendent. All three principals led Carver at an especially trying time. Several years ago, a state judge threatened the school with closure if students’ test scores did not improve.
“Mr. Barber and I came in Carver with the backdrop of people talking about the school being closed down,” Travis said. “…He and I came at a time when we had to stabilize the situation and he and I were able to do that. I like to think we brought stability to it and we continued those high expectations for the students.”
Carver had an uptick in its graduation rate under Travis. For that reason and many others, PTA President Beverly Bradshaw said she is sorry to see him go.
“He’s been a very compassionate leader; I think he’s led us in the right direction,” she declared. “He’s been a major factor in turning the school around.”
Bradshaw, whose daughter, Leah Bradshaw, is a junior at Carver this year, hopes the next principal will be like Travis.
“I know that he has to move on, and help (other students), but I’m really hoping that we’re going to get someone as dedicated as Mr. Travis. I have never seen a principal as dedicated as he is,” she said.
Board of Education member Vic Johnson, a former Carver administrator, said he believes making the move to Main Street is the right decision for Travis.
“He brings a lot of qualities to the table. He understands some of the problems that these kids are having, so he would be a good choice,” Johnson said.
Both Travis and Emory say they want to usher in a new era at Main Street, which was previously led by Spencer Hardy, who was named Parkland IB Magnet High School’s principal in March. At Main Street, the two want to implement supportive programs and initiatives centered around providing the educational and emotional support the students need to return to their home schools and become successful in those environments. Emory wants to launch a preventative program for students who are at risk of being referred to Main Street that will help to address the behavioral and academic problems they face before they are suspended from their home schools.
“He’s got a heart for kids that find themselves in those places,” Emory said of Travis. “…I think (this transition) is a win-win, for him and for us.”
Emory said a committee made up of School Board members, Carver staffers and district administrators will be tasked with finding Travis’s successor via a national search. The committee will also conduct interviews with applicants and recommend finalists to Emory and Montague-Davis, who will select the top competitor to recommend to the School Board, which will ultimately hire the new principal.
Prior experience as a school principal, an understanding of Carver’s rich culture and history and a visionary leadership style are keys the next principal must possess to usher in a new era at Carver, Emory believes.
“I’d really like us to find somebody who helps us look at how can we carve out opportunities at Carver that make it unique and help us attract kids to that school and build the population,” Emory said. “We’ve got space to build that population, and sometimes that takes adding something there that might be different or new or innovative.”
Travis believes he will leave Carver well-positioned for his successor.
“I think Carver is strong and stable, and I’d like to believe that during my time there, that we moved the ball downfield,” he said. “…I think we’re in a position now that we can move forward.”