For the Children: Lessons from a Visionary Principal

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Madeline Cartwright, born into a family of thirteen children in a rural Pennsylvania town, remembers how it felt to be a child singled out in school for her messy hair and her hand-me-down clothes. She can still recall her frustration when she couldn't read in third grade and the alphabet seemed hopelessly twisted beyond her comprehension. It was those memories, interwoven with her inherent innovation and generosity, that Cartwright brought to the run-down Blaine Elementary School in North Philadelphia's ...
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Overview

Madeline Cartwright, born into a family of thirteen children in a rural Pennsylvania town, remembers how it felt to be a child singled out in school for her messy hair and her hand-me-down clothes. She can still recall her frustration when she couldn't read in third grade and the alphabet seemed hopelessly twisted beyond her comprehension. It was those memories, interwoven with her inherent innovation and generosity, that Cartwright brought to the run-down Blaine Elementary School in North Philadelphia's Strawberry Mansion District. This dynamic woman took over the troubled inner-city school and brought her teachers and students to a stunning victory. Test scores increased, attendance grew to 92 percent, and a community where 63 percent of families receive public assistance was inspired to overcome the apathy and the stereotype of despair endemic to the urban landscape.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
What the inner-city kids needed from the Blaine Elementary School in Philadelphia's Strawberry Mansion district was more than just education--it was food, health care, clean clothes and stability. Told with the aid of D'Orso, a reporter for the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot , Cartwright describes her 1979 appointment as principal of the crumbling school with underserved minority children, apathetic parents and a faculty with low expectations. An African American woman motivated by her own early struggles for an education and by an unshakable belief in the restorative powers of love for children, she was unafraid to tackle personally such problems as dirty bathrooms and a cockroach infestation. She had washing and sewing machines installed in the school, involved the children in their school's upkeep and made Blaine an oasis for those whom community resources had failed. Although self-congratulatory in tone, this principal shows that there is hope for even the most seemingly hopeless schools. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Anyone who thinks that schools need not serve as social service agencies should read this story of Cartwright and her success as principal of Blaine Elementary School, located in one of Philadelphia's most debilitated and devastated inner city neighborhoods. ``Schools are going to have to become surrogate homes,'' she says. When necessary, Cartwright scrubs the boys' lavatory herself. In one account, she convinces a teacher to report for work despite a broken leg. She is there with a devastated parent to arrange for the burial of a child shot on the streets and advises another to give her children up for adoption because it would be tantamount to ``removing children from a war zone.'' The intensely personal narrative will either turn the reader away in shock and disbelief, or make one hope for more leaders like Cartwright. This powerful book should be required reading for politicians, sociologists, educators, and anyone interested in the future of this country; no library should be without it. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/93.-- Arla Lindgren, St. John's Univ., Jamaica, New York
Angus Trimnell
Cartwright is very confident of her opinions. In fact, one might even say she's full of herself. However, as presented, hers is not at all a bad idea. As a teacher and principal in inner-city Philadelphia, serving children who are commonly written off, she has gotten children to come to school, gotten teachers to stop relating to children as write-offs, and made a learning environment possible. More educators should be full of Madeline Cartwright. "For the Children" is her story. She writes of her life growing up poor and her lifelong mission to educate others. The culmination of her career was her assignment as principal of Blaine School in North Philadelphia's devastated Strawberry Mansion neighborhood. She writes of the challenge she undertook to turn this war-zone school into a joyful oasis. Using influence and intransigence in combination with her love for the children and the community, she instituted changes as simple as personally answering the school phone and as profound as washing the clothes and bodies of children who had no other means of having that done for them. Primary to her method is the recognition that children and parents need to be involved in education, requiring the educators' own personal involvement. An excellent anecdotal resource for all education collections.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385423724
  • Publisher: The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/1/1993
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Pages: 272

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