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Almost a year ago today, young student Derrion Albert captured the attention of the world when he lost his life after being brutally beaten outside of Fenger High School on the south side of Chicago.  As you can see from my video volunteering at the school soon after as “Principal for a Day” (click here) and the amazing photos captured by artist Sandra Steinbrecher (must see), there is new life and positivity coming from the kids, teachers, community and their school, that its a turnaround joy that I just had to share with you so that you can see & support along with me!

As I have talked about before, I have the honor of being a part of Mayor Daley’s “Principal for a Day” for the Chicago Public School system once a year. It’s a tremendous program that I am so thrilled to be a part of! Being able to visit a CPS school, spend an entire day with students, exchange stories, walk the halls, hear about their programs and student groups, shine any guidance on them that I can offer…it’s just a great feeling and always one of my favorite times of the year.

Last year, after I had heard about what had happened, I knew immediately that I wanted to help and decided I would be Principal for a Day  at Fenger High School, only a few weeks after the murder of Derrion Albert. I have to admit I was nervous, more so than usual, and had no idea what I was in store for. But I was so blown away by what and who greeted me that day.

Elizabeth Dozier, the real Principal at Fenger, is an outstanding woman and so great at what she does. She was so gracious to me that day and I couldn’t have been more impressed with her, the faculty and the students I had the privilege of spending time with. It was a mere month after a tragedy had taken place outside their school and one of their own was killed and these kids were so positive, so willing and excited to learn, I just couldn’t believe it. I honestly feel like I was the one that benefitted more from being there that day, not the other way around.

Last year, CPS identified Fenger as a Turnaround School for the year. Renovations took place, curriculum and programs were enhanced and new highly trained staff was brought on to turn the tragedy that had taken place into a fresh and much deserved new start for the students. Sandra Steinbrecher, a super talented local photographer, was on hand all year to capture highlights of this initiative. See for yourself the touching and inspiring turnaround this school has made! For more information on Fenger High School, please visit http://www.fengerhighschool.org.

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