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.