Case Study 3: Beachwood High School
In 2010, Beachwood High School hired Dirk Dagger as principal. The previous principal was beloved Phyllis Knowles who worked at Beachwood for two years. Prior to Phyllis was Joe Gates who left his first principalship after only two years. Preceding to Joe, Lonna Self led the high school for four years and was forced out by the board. All of the principals lived outside the local community and commuted long distances to work. Dirk's two assistant principals, or AP's, were Frank Fischer, a young, highly talented former business education teacher for six years, in his second year as AP. The second AP was Sara Shad, a 28 year veteran English teacher at the high school, in her fourth year as AP. The administration was aware that culture changes existed in the school with the continued influx of Arabic families into Dearborn Heights.
Beachwood High School demographics have changed over the last 10 years. Located in urban Dearborn Heights next to the city of Dearborn, Michigan, Beachwood School District operates three elementary schools (grades K-4), one middle school (grades 5-8), one high school (grades 9-12), and several Pre-K programs. As of 2010, K-12 student enrollment was approximately 3,400, with a teaching staff of 171 and other support staff of 155.The student to teacher ratio was 19.54. The Dearborn Heights area consisted of three public schools, one charter school, and one catholic school. There were approximately 26,000 residents who lived in the Beachwood School district. The neighboring city of Dearborn is home to the largest concentration of Arab Americans in the United States, with over 40,000. Many immigrants came to the area in the early-to-mid-20th century to work in the automotive industry. According to the United States Federal government, race and ethnicity does not list a separate demographic for Arabic background, forcing Arabs into the white demographic, much to their dismay. With that, Beachwood high school was listed as 94% white. Arab American speaking students make up over 60% of the student population and many students are English as a Second Language or ESL learners.
The counseling department worked as a well-oiled machine and lead the school through all of the administration changes. The matriarch of the counseling department was Cara Carol with the school since 1975, and Peter Perch a counselor for 15 years, along with Betty Beydoun, for 13 years. The counseling department was the backbone of the high school, and willing to step forward for students and any and all initiatives, concerns, and issues. They were involved in every meeting that occurred. Not only did they council their students, they handled administrative tasks regarding discipline and attendance. The counseling department knew every student and parent by name and were seen throughout the building. They were the glue that held the school together through the administration revolving door in the front office. As a...