Dr. LeAndrea Ware, a Howard High School graduate and now executive principal, is one of the most accomplished and effective principals I have ever encountered. Dr. Ware arrived on the Howard High School scene to work with an entire community to positively affect the lives of all students. She hired a cadre of outstanding teachers, repurposed available space, and worked hard to get to know every one of the more than 1,000 students in her care.
Dr. Ware has always been a person one could talk to any time and get honest, productive guidance on any issue. Dr. Ware has a thorough understanding of the students, the families, and the community she serves. Although the students are always at the top of her concern, Dr. Ware also supports and encourages the teachers under her tutelage. She is quite resourceful and knows exactly where to find extra support, whether to answer the basic needs of a family, provide school supplies, or arrange a field trip. Even when addressing difficult educational concerns, Dr. Ware makes everyone feel they can get through any challenge. She is not above the staff; she is part of the staff.
I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Ware and I know firsthand that she is a hard worker on the scene and behind the scenes. I also know firsthand that she is the same whether she’s on stage addressing educators at a conference, walking the halls at Howard high school, or meeting one-on-one with a teacher, student, or parent; her commitment, integrity, and passion have never wavered or faltered. It is so unfortunate that some misguided person wants to spread negativity and vitriol in our community.
Dr. Ware is a finalist for the State Principal of the year, not because she is putting on a facade, but for other reasons that are too numerous to list. However, for those who are unaware and need a glimpse of the extraordinary efforts that Dr. Ware has accomplished, allow me to share, but please grab pen to paper so you can take accurate notes.
Howard High School is the oldest high school in Chattanooga and has seen many changes. Now, we know that no one likes change but a wet baby, and sometimes the baby is not happy about the change either. It takes a brave and strong leader to come aboard and implement change. Because the demographics of Howard is changing, it was necessary to seek a leader not afraid of a paradigm shift to meet the needs of the millennials, Generation Z, and the community where the Howard School sits. Therefore, Dr. Ware was the BS, the best selection for the job. Serving as the executive principal calls for one to not only wear the hat of a leader, but many other hats as well. To move such an entity forward one must incorporate shared leadership and vision to drive change. Who else was as befitting and savvy to undertake such as task?
One of the top agenda items on Dr. Ware’s list was to address and improve the school’s attendance issues. Through her efforts and with the support of the team, all hands were on deck to mentor chronically absent students to get them back in school, which improved attendance rates. It takes someone who is encouraging and always believing and supporting others to reach their optimal level. Because of the respect she has for her teachers and staff, a rippling effect transcends to the students.
The school’s culture is changing. Discipline rates have decreased because of the direct efforts of the administrative team and teachers to not only build relationships with the students but also hold them accountable in ways aimed at restoring and teaching them rather than tearing them down and writing them off.
This year Howard scored the highest literacy rates ever and showed significant growth thanks to community champions like Reuben Lawrence and so many others who genuinely care and support the school rather than trying to discount their progress.
Dr. Ware is a leader who showcases a balanced spirit while building the self-confidence of others. A brilliant leader that surpasses all expectations, she is working elbow to elbow with her entire team to get the job done. No facade needed, she is the real deal indeed!
Thank you to Dr. Ware and the entire faculty and staff at Howard School for pressing on in spite of what others think or say! We all know that you are the “BS” the BEST SELECTION for the job and congratulations to you!
Pamela Smith-Ligon, Ph.D.