4. A Class Act
Linda Cliatt-Wayman couldn’t find someone to run one of Pennsylvania’s most “persistently dangerous schools,” so she stepped down as assistant superintendent of Philadelphia’s 52 high schools to do it herself. As the fourth principal of Strawberry Mansion in four years, she’s gotten the school off the list, cut violent incidents in half and doubled the number of college-bound graduates. Instead of closing, the high school is now a Promise Academy, part of the district’s turnaround program. Students returned to school this fall proudly wearing strawberry-colored polo shirts, and the football team is back, going undefeated this fall. By returning to North Philadelphia where she grew up, Cliatt-Wayman is meeting her goal of restoring hope despite district budget cuts and a to-do list that’s still mad long. Her message over the school’s public announcement system: “If nobody told you I love you today, remember I do.” No wonder she’s getting shoutouts from students, parents and the likes of presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton.