How the kids at Mayport High School have the world at their fingertips, according to their teachers
Posted On July 9, 2021
Mayport, Texas (CNN) The Mayport Public School District was founded in 1892 by the first charter school operator in Texas.
In 1894, a teacher from New Orleans named Almon Wright took over and brought the district back to its roots as a high school for children with special needs.
Mayport has grown and changed to the present day, with an estimated 80,000 students in grades 7 through 12, including some of the nation’s most gifted students.
May, like many small communities across the state, is a magnet for talented students from all over the state and the country, with more than 1,000 colleges and universities in its schools.
May is also home to Mayport Academy, a magnet school that trains and prepares young people for college.
But it is not just the high-performing students who have been drawn to Mayports, the town’s first charter, to pursue a higher education path.
It is the educators, administrators and community leaders who have helped Mayport become the most successful charter school district in the state.
In the past, the teachers’ union had the final say on what would be taught in the classrooms.
Now, they are in charge of all decisions about the classroom, from who gets to sit in what seat and what materials.
And the district’s top administrator, Mary Ann Suggs, has become the first woman to be elected to the board.
May was named one of Time Magazine’s 50 Best Places to Work for Women in 2017.
In her first term, Mayport Superintendent Mike Harkins worked to improve the school’s academic performance, hiring a new superintendent and bringing in new leadership.
May’s success is due in large part to the district having the backing of the city of Mayport and its leaders.
“We have a lot of teachers, a lot more support staff and a lot less turnover,” Harkens said.
“You can tell by how much more we’ve grown as a community in the last four or five years, and how much better our schools are.”
In Mayport’s first year, Mayports teachers won praise for their dedication to their students and for the district becoming more inclusive.
They brought in a new African-American teacher and promoted a new diversity position to make sure that the community has the resources needed to help students of color and special needs students.
The district has also added an Asian-American, Latino and female teacher.
“It’s really important that you see the community as a whole,” Halkins said.
The school’s new superintendent also wants to create more opportunities for students of different backgrounds to learn and get to know one another.
The new school year is an opportunity for students to have fun and make new friends, and for teachers to take time to be with their students, he said.
Harkin wants the district to become a more welcoming place for students and their families, and he said he is looking for more staff members of color.
“I want the community to know that I am really excited for Mayport to have such an excellent academic and leadership team and I’m really proud of the students that we have here,” Hankins said in a press release.
“This is a really exciting time to see what Mayport can be.”
A year ago, Mayors Tom Caddell and Steve Sugg were named to the school board.
Caddles was the first black to serve on the board, and his first year as Mayport superintendent was a challenging one.
Cattles tenure began with the district hiring an Asian American teacher, who has since become the districts second in command.
Sugg is a longtime educator who is now the district s vice president of academic programs and is a member of the school districts administration.
In addition to the teachers, Mayoral staff and community members, the district has made significant investments to help the district become more inclusive, Harkinson said.
For example, the Mayport Charter School is now located in a multi-racial school.
“Mayport is an extremely diverse community, and we are doing everything we can to make our schools more welcoming and more inclusive,” he said in the press release announcing the hiring of Mayors Caddells and Sugg.
“There’s so much more work to do to make Mayport a better school district.”
The district’s leadership team has been working on the plan for the past two years to make the district more inclusive and to improve its academic performance.
“A lot of the decisions that we made have come from a lot about being able to get the teachers to understand the different cultures, different abilities and abilities of the different students that live here,” Caddalls predecessor, Tom Cattals plan said.
It was the new plan that was approved by the board in May 2017, and it was supported by a majority of the board and by the Mayors leadership team.
“The students that come to Maypool do so because they want to be