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He’s 29, Black and a principal in Jackson, leading kids in the area he grew up in

He’s 29, Black and a principal in Jackson, leading kids in the area he grew up in
He’s 29, Black and a principal in Jackson, leading kids in the area he grew up in(Principal Patrick Edmond)
Updated: Jun. 11, 2021 at 12:42 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - A non-traditional school in Jackson appointed a young Black man as principal for the upcoming school year.

Patrick Edmond is only 29-year-old, and his new title of principal humbles him at Smilow Prep, a charter school on Northside Drive.

“I’m so excited!”

Edmond started at the charter school in 2018 as a 7th-grade founding math teacher, immediately stunned by the students.

“They sat with their backs straight, feet flat, and kids spoke in complete sentences when called upon,” he said. “If I asked the students ‘what’s the square root of 49?’ they would respond, ‘the square root of 49 is 7.’”

Edmond couldn’t believe it.

“It changed how I saw education and the impact you can have as a teacher and developing character as a teacher,” he said.

He embraced the opportunity to create at the fairly new charter school, helping to start a track team which opened the door to more.

“I think that was the catalyst that brought the football team and basketball and cheerleading,” Edmond said.

Not stopping there, he became the 8th-grade founding math teacher the following year, starting the National Honor Society and STEM opportunities for students.

“Our math leagues are some of the smartest math leagues in the state, and we’re truly getting them invested into STEM-related careers and majors in college,” Edmond said. “I also had the opportunity to start a BETA club for our 5th grad and 6th-grade students to be scholastically rewarded even though they’re not old enough to be in the honor society yet.”

In 2020, the school appointed Edmond as assistant principal after his impact on students translated to higher test scores.

RePublic Schools says over 70% of Edmond’s students were proficient on the state math test that year.

“Patrick led strong math instruction to foster a deep understanding and love of math with his kids, and most recently as an Assistant Principal, he coached and developed teachers on leading strong virtual instruction and creating a sense of community and belonging through distance learning,” said Laurie Brown, chief of staff, RePublic Charter Schools. “We can’t wait to see what Patrick’s continued impact will be.”

And teachers and parents are excited too.

“He has a servant’s heart,” Kelsey Burwell, a literacy teacher, said. “He treats everyone with the same respect regardless of the title. I have no doubt in mind that he will lead Smilow Prep to the top.”

“The best thing about having Mr. Edmond as principal now is that he was my son’s teacher, and I got a chance to really see his passion for the scholars. It’s not just a job for him,” one parent named Tamekia Roger said.

He’s 29, Black and a principal in Jackson, leading kids in the area he grew up in
He’s 29, Black and a principal in Jackson, leading kids in the area he grew up in(Principal Patrick Edmond)

Edmond said the students are a reflection of him.

“When I look at those kids, I see me, I see my sisters, I see my sons,” said Edmond, who has overcome his share of struggles.

He knows what it’s like to grow up in a single-parent home and even experience homelessness after dropping out of college, despite graduating in the top ten of his class at Jim Hill High School.

“I had so many options and open doors that I never had to really think about what I wanted to do in life,” Edmond said. “I knew I was smart and could do anything but had no passion for one thing.”

At one point, Edmond said he was an executive assistant, part-time accountant and even ran for Jackson’s city council after being wait-listed for medical school, all while serving as a U.S. Navy Reserve.

Now that he’s tried his hand at teaching, life won’t ever be the same, and students can feel it.

“Mr. Edmond always has a big smile on his face which makes him very fun to be around,” Smilow Prep 7th grader Janiyah Rogers said.

Principal Edmond says his game plan for the new year is “catching the COVID slide and making sure we assess all of our kids, get them the right interventions and close any gaps that COVID may have widened for our students.”

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