How One Woman Reinvented School To Combat Poverty
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How One Woman Reinvented School To Combat Poverty

LAURA LING: Dr. Tiffany
Anderson, superintendent of the Jennings School
District, begins her morning with a four-hour
commute to work, after which she can be
found, sneakers and all, out on crossing guard duty. Anderson oversees seven schools,
3,000 students, and hundreds of teachers and staff. But there’s no job she won’t do. TIFFANY ANDERSON: I bring
hot chocolate, coats. I’m the first face
they see before they walk through the door. LAURA LING: Jennings is a
town of 15,000 people just outside St. Louis, Missouri. It borders Ferguson, which
was the center of protests following the shooting of
an unarmed black teenager by a white police
officer in 2014. Like Ferguson, Jennings
has a population of mostly African
Americans, 1/4 of whom live below the poverty line. LAURA LING: What was the school
district like when you first arrived? TIFFANY ANDERSON: Four years
ago, Jennings didn’t really feel like a community
that had hope. Almost every month,
I am attending a funeral of either a current
student or a student’s parent. And often those are
victims of crime. We have two students at one
of our elementary schools where they literally had
to crawl out of the window as their mother
was being stabbed. Things that we can’t imagine. LAURA LING:
17-year-old Gabby Scott is a junior at
Jennings High School. How old were you when you
found out you were pregnant? GABBY SCOTT: 15. That was rough. LAURA LING: Did you cry? GABBY SCOTT: I did. A lot. So much I probably don’t
even have tears left. LAURA LING: Just a few years
ago, many students in Jennings were in danger of
not graduating. Dropping out was not
an unusual occurrence. Did you think about how
am I going to go to school and have this baby? GABBY SCOTT: That
was the first thing that was brought to my mind. I don’t think I’m going
to be able to go to school and be pregnant. LAURA LING: Do you think that
people had written this school district off? TIFFANY ANDERSON: I
think in many ways. Because Jennings
has so much poverty, people really weren’t sure
if improvement was possible. LAURA LING: With
grants, partnerships, and some creativity, Dr.
Anderson balanced the budget, launched a college prep
program, and brought back arts education. She also began to
address issues that stemmed far beyond academics. TIFFANY ANDERSON: I learned that
food was the greatest issue, so we decided we would
open a food pantry. We give out 8,000
pounds of food a month. Approximately 200 to 400
people every two weeks get food from Jennings. And then we looked
at health care. We have about two to three
mental health therapists at every school. Washington University,
they agreed to partner, and they provide a pediatrician. So look, you break an
arm, just come to school. We got it. LAURA LING: This is a place
where parents can come and do their laundry for
free in exchange for volunteering an hour
of their time at school. And it’s pretty incredible,
when you think about it, because it’s such a simple
way to get parents involved, while at the same time
addressing the very real needs of many if these families. TIFFANY ANDERSON: We generally
say, if all you can do is make it to school, we’ll
take care of the rest. Food, clothes,
shoes, health care. LAURA LING: What
kind of changes did you start to see
in your students when you started to
remove those barriers? TIFFANY ANDERSON: So when
kids knew that we cared, there was almost like
this light bulb went off. This willingness to try. And we are now fully accredited. Four years ago we were
meeting 57% of the standards. We’re now meeting 81%. We’ve been exceeding
the state benchmarks for two consecutive years. LAURA LING: Dr. Anderson
also introduced a program to support teen moms
like Gabby, as well as parents in the community. It allowed Gabby to
stay focused on school while raising her son Carter. On top of having a baby, you
are a straight-A student, right? GABBY SCOTT: Yes. LAURA LING: And you are
going to be class president. GABBY SCOTT: Yes. And you’re on your way
to being valedictorian. GABBY SCOTT: Yes. LAURA LING: How are you doing
this all and managing it all? GABBY SCOTT: I have teachers
who are willing to work with me and my time management. Carter comes with me to
my student council events. LAURA LING: If you were pregnant
before all of these programs were introduced,
before Dr. Anderson, what do you think your
life would be like? GABBY SCOTT: Probably would
have given up a long time ago. But with the support of
Jennings and their programs, it’s been easier. We are all passing our tests,
willing to come to school. It’s making us more
excited to be here. LAURA LING: This community
borders Ferguson, which has seen a lot of unrest. This is a critical
time in our country. Has that brought greater urgency
to the work that you do here? TIFFANY ANDERSON:
I believe our role is to show people that there
is a system of oppression, and to gain the greatest
amount of education they can so that they have the
power to make changes. LAURA LING: Can this work be
replicated in many places? TIFFANY ANDERSON: This
work we’ve done in Jennings can happen anywhere, in any size
district, and in any community. Zip codes should not
determine the quality of education or health care. And we will not allow for that
to determine where kids end up. LAURA LING: To see how
this young woman conquered incredible odds to become
a Gates Millennial Scholar, watch this next video. SUBJECT: Outside of my
house, it was a lot of gangs. And my sister was always
involved with them. I saw so many graphic things
that she went through. LAURA LING: Did you ever
think about joining a gang? SUBJECT: No. It made me more focused. I was always the
nerd of the family. LAURA LING: Please don’t
forget to subscribe to “Secret Stories.” You can see new
videos every week.

About James Carlton

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100 thoughts on “How One Woman Reinvented School To Combat Poverty

  1. the most sad thing is that what she doing looks amazing instead to be common in our life, that how should be life – love, compasion, courage.

  2. stopped watching when this """"journalist"""" said "black teenager shot and killed by a white police officer"

    I don't give a fuck if she's the salt of the earth super duper nice lady if you're going to tinge the bideo in anti white bigotry.

  3. Thinking of the best comment to leave based on the few I'm reading.
    How about this: It's possible to watch this whole video even if you think you disagree with it on "political" grounds. It's possible to listen to people you disagree with! What a thought!
    When you fail to even listen or consider (I'm not saying agree) you create an echo chamber, a selection bias. Plain and simple.
    If you think something is true, fine. Why should it hurt so much to consider alternative viewpoints?

  4. Looks like Jennings, under Dr. Tiffany Anderson, has achieved amazing things. Imagine what schools could achieve with the funding and staffing they really deserve.

  5. Curious question is that school's demographic entirely African American? There's not a single while kid in that school?

  6. "System of oppression"?
    You do realize that all poor people regardless of race, gender or creed deal with the same things you are.
    Just another BLM propaganda. I'm glad they're doing stuff to help their community, but lets not pretend it's a black only issue, okay?

  7. This women is tremendous! She gives faith, love , and care for the community of school, giving them a future to look upon. This is a very inspirational women 🙂

  8. This is awesome. Its people like this that we need to help shape change in schools all around the country.

  9. I respect what this woman does and I applaud her for it.
    but some parts around the world, people don't have schools and even teachers. I'm sorry but this is not poverty.

  10. when I watch this it inspires me to know that the vision and will of one person is unstoppable Amen.

  11. LOL while politicians argue about the implementation of socialism, these amazing community members are already doing it with brilliant results.

  12. Fuck yeah Dr. Tiffany. Finally someone actually applied some actual pedagogy when trying to educate kids.

  13. disgusting "communities" and severely dysfunctional people…. this is NOT what school is for, the only thing this shows is staggering dependence and a garantee that the people shuffled through this state farm will just repeat this dysfunctional culture multi generationally.

    any that thinks this remotely good is a fucking deluding themselves… it addresses NOTHING of the issues that reduce people to the point where the state has to be a caretaker for every single possible aspect of life.

    shame on every single one of you self serving assholes that swallow this vomit.

  14. I thought she was teaching how to start their own businesses, how politics works so they can use the money they make to control the political landscape, and how to practice group economics so they can attract $1 mil. into their community and have it exchange hands between 10 other people in their community essentially turning that $1mil. into $10 mil and drastically improving their community that way.

  15. You should have voted for Bernie if you could have and didn't. He would have tried to do things like this all over the country. And now we are subject to Trump. Good job guys! (Sorry, not all of you) And of you voted for Hillary then you really, really, really helped Trump. He is winning or tied, but Bernie would have a 10% lead. 😢 Say hello to our next president! Donald Trump! Hopefully at least Hillary can pull through, better than Trump for sure.

  16. I wouldn't say systems of oppression, I'd say that they voted for an idiot. Seriously, whoever is deciding how much funding this area is getting needs to be replaced.

  17. Listen well, Betsy DeVos! This is how you improve failing public schools. Not gutting or privatizing them. Nurture them.

  18. what? WHAT? Makes too much fucking sense. Schools need to care about the students and communities. Everything else is bullshit.

  19. that's crazy that black Americans are in proverty line and that the getto is hard to push away from due to the lack of intelligence. Donald Trump if you wanna make america better please fix places like this to better black Americans and push the stereotypical image.

  20. Y'all, she was the best superintendent that Jennings ever had! We miss her dearly, and pray she will come back to us

  21. Well, where were her parents? They should've been keeping her daughter preoccupied with school activities, sports, and education. The people in Jennings and Ferguson are poor because they haven't educated themselves and acquired marketable skillsets in a nation where education is free and the library is free, I just don't buy it. America has become a nation of complainers and whiners, a bunch of dogs whimpering on a nail. All they do is whine and cry but do nothing about it. Enough of this. Man up and women up and  do what ya got to do.

  22. This lady is doing her job and a great job at that. Good job for getting these parents and students motivated. Good education STARTS IN THE HOME!

  23. I'd be very interested in hearing how she found and built good partnerships. I love the part where parents get to trade laundry facilities for volunteering. Nothing helps people understand schools, like investing their time in them.

  24. Who says angels don’t walk among us.
    Thank you so much for your sincere care, love, and strength you give. But most of all for making a difference!

  25. The cognative shortfalls of blacks causes their communities to flounder which in turn affects their ability to get an education which in turn affects their employment opportunities which feeds back into the loop to create poverty.

    Only 16% of american blacks have an IQ above 100.

    The mean IQ of a high school graduate is 105.

    Half of American blacks have a mean IQ of 85 and below.

  26. Wow, simply amazing, why don't other Black Superintendents and Principals get it? As an African American, I see many Black Superintendents and Principals oppress poor black people, to see Dr. Anderson do such an amazing job of supporting black families in need gives me hope 👏🏿👏🏿

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