Promoting Patriotism in Public School

    Principal Of Middle School Academy Promotes Tradition Of Honor, Duty, And Service

    Nicky Niewinski, Principal
    Thomas C. Marsh Preparatory Academy
    Dallas ISD, Dallas, Texas
    Raise Your Hand Texas Alumna ’14 (Improving Schools: The Art of Leadership)

    At Thomas C. Marsh Preparatory Academy in the Dallas Independent School District, 6th grade students aren’t too young to learn about being good citizens and what it means to be of service to their country. Their instructor Miriam Gaytan, formerly with Aviation Administration of the United States Marine Corps, teaches the students of the Leadership Cadet Corps. Each day, in their manner and deeds, her students honor the service and traditions of the men and women who have served in uniform, in each branch of the military.

    When Raise Your Hand Texas visited the Thomas C. Marsh Preparatory Academy in Dallas, a very proud Principal Nicky Niewinski escorted us directly down a school hallway, out a back door, and up to an outside portable.

    Painted in desert camouflage and draped with netting, this building is where some of the academy’s most committed students are enrolled in Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (Leadership Cadet Corps) where they learn about what it means to be of service to their country.

    The award-winning corps teaches its students to practice self-discipline, how to be good citizens and effective leaders, and perhaps most integral at this stage —the importance of staying in school.

    Principal Niewinski says if you consider 83 percent of the school’s 1,100 students fall below the poverty line, the Leadership Cadet Corps is an invaluable treasure.

    “We have some kids whose parents are working two or three jobs,” Niewinski said. “They’re having a hard time paying their bills. Sometimes we have to provide (students) with clothes. They’re coming to school hungry. We try to make up for that here. We’re not just a school. I consider this their home, too.”

    Recently, Raise Your Hand Texas selected Principal Niewinski to attend the “Improving Schools: The Art of Leadership” institute at the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Principals’ Center. As a leader of young leaders like those in the Leadership Cadet Corps, Niewinski was an ideal candidate for one of the sponsored spots.

    Here, Niewinski talks about how she’s using what she learned at Harvard to ultimately benefit her students and her staff.