“Just so you all know, I live in the neighborhood – the N. Highland community. Every school that I’ve taught at, I’ve lived in the community. I believe that I should work where I live.”
Anjanette Wallace-Sela, seasoned teacher, assistant principal and newly-appointed AP at North Highland Elementary brought several attendees to say “yes,” “amen,” and nod at a town hall meeting there Monday night.
Her assurances seemed to be said on the spur of the moment, but they were profound for those who only two weeks ago thought their neighborhood school was about to be closed by the district.
She told Free Press later that she had only gotten word about the meeting about 4:00 that afternoon, so she was pushing to catch up. She had to call someone on the way just to find out which door to go in.
The popular assistant principal at Britton Elementary in Oklahoma City Public Schools had been told recently she was being transferred to North Highland.
But after years in the largest district in the state, and the most urban, she has learned how to recover quickly.
It will be an even more important part of her character as the school is organizationally rebuilt on the fly after no apparent plans had been made for its future until just before the June 26 board meeting.
Wallace-Sela is paving the way for a yet-to-be-named principal.
Deputy Chief of Schools Brad Herzer, who supervises the district’s administrators, told Free Press they have a principal selected but couldn’t make the announcement at the meeting because the contract hadn’t been signed and processed yet.
Parents from the community around the school at 8400 North Robinson have been reeling after the possible closure of the school leaked to community leaders and the press.
The furor eased when Oklahoma City Public Schools superintended Aurora Lora announced in the June 26 board meeting that they had received multiple offers for support from donors, teachers and administrators in the district.
But out of that process, those parents who have been working as PTA leaders and volunteers stepped up and claimed their school.
The town hall meeting was their next act after confronting the school board and administration June 26.
Lisa Stanfield-Arinwine, PTA president, told Free Press she was encouraged by the meeting.
“Participation” was what she identified as her top concern moving forward.
“Actually, pulling up here, I was excited at all the cars and stuff,” she said. “But, when I walked in here, I didn’t see a lot of the people that I knew in the neighborhood that said they were coming.”
“And that’s really kind of disappointing,” she said looking around after the meeting ended. “There should have been more community, more people here.”
She was careful to say that she was glad to see members of Bridgeway Church interested in the future of the school and community, though.
Members of the predominantly white Bridgeway Church had nearly as many, if not more members at the meeting of about 55 people.
Many of their members drive in from Edmond to the worship center at Hefner and Broadway Extension, about a mile and one-half north of the school.
Members of the church had been eagerly making plans to help with a summer program at North Highland until the district backed out claiming they had too much uncertainty of leadership at the school to run the program.
Wallace-Sela and a new administrative assistant transferred from John Marshal, Rufus Howard, are assembling ideas forwarded by the community which will be turned over to the new principal once she/he is in place.
PIO Beth Harrison told Free Press that other than the administrators, they have hired one counselor and one social worker.
She said they still have one social worker, eight core subject teachers and one art teacher yet to hire.