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Miami Northwestern Senior High Principal Wallace Aristide has done the unthinkable. He has turned the school into an academic institution that received its first A grade this year. Aristide has now fulfilled the vision of his predecessor, Charles Hankerson.
Hankerson, you might recall, is the former principal who butted heads with Northwestern's tight-knit community of parents and boosters.
Aristide, however, is the man who deserves credit here. No one can turn a failing school around overnight.
1100 Northwest 71st St.
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"It's incredible. It's quite a feeling," Aristide recently told the Miami Times. "I am in awe. I haven't slept in three days."
Northwestern always had a reputation for producing all-star athletes, winning state and national championships in football and women's track and field. Unfortunately, the success didn't filter into the classroom. Northwestern received D or F grades for 12 consecutive years from 1998 to 2010. It was labeled one of the state's 163 "dropout factories" in a Johns Hopkins University study.
In 2006, the school was rocked by a scandal in which several members of the school's administration, faculty, and football coaching staff were reported to have known about a star football player's sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl without reporting it.
Hankerson began to change the culture, and Aristide picked up the torch when he took over three years ago. Aristide found a way to rise above the political backroom dealing that didn't serve the best interests of Northwestern. During the two years I volunteered as an assistant football coach there, I saw Aristide motivate every Northwestern faculty member and employee. He urged them to accept responsibility for the well-being and education of every student.
Aristide hasn't won anything on the football field, but he can claim victory in the classroom. During my tenure, my defensive players averaged a 3.0 GPA, and many of them received academic scholarships to attend college. That's why Aristide deserves props for reshaping Northwestern into a model school of the 21st Century.
Follow Luke on Twitter: @unclelukereal1.