A Principal's Lesson

Craig Nigrelli

Photo: Video by kmtv.com

A Principal's Lesson

CREATED Feb. 12, 2014
Omaha, NE - Sit down with Benson High School Principal Anita Harkins-Baldwin for a half-hour and one thing immediately becomes clear, her passion for children and education. She said, " I really just think it's my mission.  I was put here to help children be phenomenal adults somebody. "
 
But that mission can often be tough.  Declining enrollment has left Benson number seven in O-P-S among seven high schools. Add to that the tragedy that students have been forced to cope with at an incredibly young age including : the gunning down of Devina Johnson, the murder of Erianna Carr, the strangling of Melanie Koontz, all Benson students.   Harkins-Baldwin remarked, " It's been very difficult. Three of my four years I've opened the school year with the death of a young person. "

However, the Principal refuses to use that or accept that as an excuse to keep her school down. In fact, she recently traveled to Nashville,Tennessee where she learned first hand about career academies.  Harkins-Baldwin brought some of those ideas back to Benson where a program for aspiring electricians now takes place at her school.  

It's a huge positive in what has been a difficult year personally for the Benson leader.  The single mother of three children, ages 18, 14 and 11, underwent treatment and surgery for cervical cancer.  She said, " When I have kids with the most difficult issues they are facing, I say you know what a year ago I didn't know if I was going to be alive, six months ago I questioned it. "

The Principal says she gets some of her can-do attitude from her late father, who was a speech writer for Dr. Martin Luther King.  She vows to do everything possible to help her students overcome any obstacles in their lives.    

 


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