Men's Breakfast, September 13, 2014

The Men’s Breakfast Group met Saturday, September 13th with Jennifer Gonzalez, incoming principal of Brazosport High School.  She brought  her associate principal, Jerri  Centilli-Freshour with her.  Jennifer comes from a family of teachers with mother and grandmother having been teachers.  She graduated from Brazosport High School and went on to get degrees in biology and education.  She taught Biology for several years and then became an assistant principal at Brazoswood High School.  She accepted the position of principal at Brazosport High School this fall. 
Jennifer plans to be actively involved with the teachers and students.  In addition to the standard evaluation visits she and her team will make short unannounced visits to classrooms.  She will also interact with students on a regular basis to build trust with the students.  The relatively small size of the school makes this practical. 
Brazosport High School has a student body of about 1200.  About half are Hispanic, a fifth are black and the rest Anglo.  There are essentially no Asians at the school.  The poverty rate is high with a large portion of the students getting free or reduced price lunches and breakfasts.  The school has the reputation in the city as being less disciplined than Brazoswood and that there are gangs present.  However, Jennifer says that the discipline problems are about the same at the two schools and that there are no gangs present. 
There is also a reputation that academic standards are lower.  She says that the standards are as high, but the higher potion of disadvantaged students lowers the average achievement.  She plans to encourage higher achievement.  This year they are teaching an advanced placement chemistry class, so advanced students do not have to go to Brazoswood.  They are also going to encourage students to take SAT and PSAT exams so that they can show that they are achieving academically. 
There was discussion about police in the schools.  A new state law requires that most discipline problems be handled by teachers and administrators.  Jennifer said that police were previously able to give citations for fighting and disruptive behavior, but no longer can do so.  There are still ways for the most disruptive students to be sent to court, but not as easily as before.  She said that the police are helpful for discipline and interact well with the students.  She says that the presence of police is necessary because the teachers are more restricted in what they can do. 
Jerri Centilli-Freshour, a former history teacher, wants to emphasize respect for veterans this Veterans Day.  Since this is the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, a special study of the war and how it defined the twentieth century will be presented as a lead-in to Veterans Day.
The men had an interesting discussion and a good breakfast.  The next meeting will be Saturday, October 11th with Father  Edmund Eduarte of Saint Mary’s Star of the Sea as featured guest.