Nightly News   |  June 12, 2013

School rooted in segregation raises students’ expectations

When Principal Donald Lilley arrived nine years ago, Annapolis High School operated like two different schools where minority students failed and white students excelled. But innovative changes helped transform the school, creating a community that thrives on mentoring. NBC’s Rehema Ellis reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> in tonight's education nation report, a return to something fundamental that might easily get lost with the emphasis today on tech nnology in the classroom. reh r rehema ellis goes to a school where they raised performance by raising expectations.

>> reporter: this school has really changed.

>> a cultural change that all children can be successful.

>> reporter: when the principal took over, annapolis operated like two different schools in one building. white students thrived and minority students failed. decades ago, there were two segregated schools that merged. but the inequality never fully went away.

>> african-american ninth grade males, 73% had less than a 2.0 grade point average.

>> reporter: today it's changed. 85% of blacks and 77% of hispanics are passing math. joshua was pushed into tougher glasses. he went from a failing freshman to a college-bound senior.

>> i have people that care about me, and the things i do right now, die it for them.

>> reporter: the principal hired new teachers, offered classes year round and went one step further. annapolis high invited community leaders into the building, to connect with under achieving students in a way that never happened before. students meet every week with volunteer role models from the same troubled community as the kids. changing perceptions of what's possible. you come here every week?

>> every week? i probably come here every other day. sometimes i'm here every day.

>> reporter: charles duckett listens as much' talks.

>> i try to give my wisdom to them in a way that understand.

>> reporter: joslin gets it, and now has a full scholarship to emory university .

>> from the outside looking in, there are people who don't think we can do this, and we have to pro-th prove them wrong, that's what clicked.

>> reporter: annapolis changed the expectations and that changed the students and the school.