TITUS Fellow: Ms. Angelique Smith-Hunt
Imagine being at Champion Middle School on the first day of school and watching over 200 African American fathers proudly escorting their children through the school’s doors. These fathers and their children were participating in an initiative offered by the Principal Smith-Hunt as she seeks to find ways to work collaboratively with all the stake-holders in education in Stone Mountain. Her determination to take a once condemned building and polish it to its present brilliance—both physically and academically–is a testimony to what a committed leader working collaboratively with the community can do with few outside resources. “We’re old, but not abandoned… and our train is still moving,” she says with a bright smile. The fathers bringing their children agreed with her and so did the local newspaper.
Champion is a theme school with no academic requirements, yet Mrs. Smith-Hunt’s students boast the highest scores in reading and math in Dekalb county. The school consistently achieves AYP. Further, as a school of choice, Champion experiences one of the longest waiting lists of any other school in the county.
What makes Champion the” undermined gem” of Stone Mountain? Ms. Smith-Hunt deserves much of the applause. Her vision of producing world-class, globally competent students, is unwavering. Along with an extraordinarily dedicated staff, Champion offers students a challenging interdisciplinary service-learning curriculum, the fruit of which was a recent initiative to build homes for the Haiti refugees. Go behind the school and you will see another of their learning efforts—the school’s garden, currently being used to help feed the homeless. The principal’s goal is simple: “I want the students of Champion Middle school to be globally recognized and soar … high—to break out of the norm of what society or DeKalb say they can do.” One visit to Champion leaves no doubt that the school is well on its way.