Principal in Focus: Tyona Washington

Principal in Focus: Tyona Washington

TPrincipal in Focus: Tyona Washingtonyona Washington is Principal of the newly established High School for Excellence and Innovation in Washington Heights. This fall, EVC is pleased to be working closely with teachers at the High School for Excellence and Innovation to integrate documentary video projects into their curriculum.

What is the mission of the High School for Excellence and Innovation? Why did you decide to start a school?

The mission of High School for Excellence and Innovation is to engage students and provide deep targeted support so that they can develop the skills and knowledge necessary to get back on track. Ultimately earning a high school diploma, and succeeding in higher education and the world of work.

Our school’s vision is to develop a school community that values student voice, meets the individual academic and social/emotional needs of every student, and provides a wealth of opportunities for students to discover personal meaning and a sense of purpose in their work. We aim to engage students in learning by providing relevant, authentic instruction that infuses technology and literacy across the curriculum which helps students develop the competencies necessary for success in the 21st century.

What are the unique needs of your students, and how is HSEI structured to meet those unique needs?

HSEI accepts students who are entering the ninth grade at least two years over-age. Each student has a unique circumstance which calls for an innovative approach to address his/her specific academic and social needs. All students share in the desire to “catch up” to their peers and graduate with a high school diploma.

We aim to provide personalized academic and social supports to address the unique needs of each student. Ongoing diagnostic assessments and regular benchmarks will be used to evaluate the academic and social skills of each student. This data will inform the design of differentiated classroom instruction as well as academic interventions and social supports tailored to meet the needs of each student. We pride ourselves with building strong partnerships to enhance our school’s mission. In particular, the Children’s Aid Society is a full time partner which provides our students with personalized attention through the use of the “primary person” model. This means that every student has an advocate counselor. Our students are known by an adult who provides guidance throughout their high school experience.

What was your first experience with the Educational Video Center? Why do you think our program is a good match for your goals for the school?

My first experience with EVC began years ago when I was a teacher. I welcomed a unique video project embedded in hands on filmmaking coupled with academic and social learning activities. I learned through Steve Goodman that one of my former students who struggled with reading became a freelance filmmaker as a result of his involvement in this project. I saw firsthand how this experience opened doors and uncovered hidden talent of students. This program would be an ideal match for the students of HSEI. Our school goal is to build a school culture that is engaging, purposeful and relevant to the lives of our students. EVC program will afford our students an opportunity to explore an issue (“their issue”) and integrate media, literacy and critical thinking skills.

How do you anticipate having an EVC program in our school will enhance the learning and/or experience of HSEI students? HSEI teachers?

HSEI is delighted to launch this new high school model in the community of Washington Heights. We anticipate that our partnership with EV Cthis project will strengthen the school community through an inclusive project that will expand the knowledge and skills of students and teachers alike. My hope is that this video project will engage all stakeholders in a new learning experience centered on a collective issue with positive academic and social outcomes for all students.