With a vision to turn Huntington High School into the next premiere high school in Caddo Parish, Dr. Matthew Mitchell was named Friday as the newest principal of Huntington High School.
A resident of Greenwood, Dr. Mitchell said it is imperative to the future of the Greenwood and West Shreveport communities to offer high-quality programs and opportunities which will increase the academic performance of the campus.
“To be able to provide the highest academic opportunities for the students in my own community means everything,” Dr. Mitchell said. “Being the father of young children and Huntington High School serving as my neighborhood school, the school’s success is personal for me. It is our charge to create the best high school in the city in order for no child to have to leave our community to have to go elsewhere for opportunities.”
Dr. Mitchell is Caddo’s current Middle School Principal of the Year. Prior to being named principal of Huntington, he served as principal of Fair Park Middle School and Lakeshore Middle School. Under his tenure, the schools earned Top Gains distinction from the Louisiana Department of Education. This year, he also received the Outstanding African American Achievement Award.
Mitchell is no stranger to high expectations in the high school setting. A product of Caddo Schools, Dr. Mitchell began his education career as a math teacher at C.E. Byrd High School. In working individually with students, he saw an opportunity to serve students as a graduation coach at Woodlawn Leadership Academy in order to identify potential student dropouts and create individualized graduation plans to push students toward the goal of a diploma and postsecondary success.
“Every child has the potential for greatness and it is on us to provide the teachers and staff to bring that out and make our community proud with the legacy our graduates will leave as they make Shreveport great,” he said.
By 2012, Dr. Mitchell sought to make a greater impact in the district by signing on to become a secondary math professional development specialist. The position allowed him to work with principals, teachers and staff to coordinate trainings to realize student potential and identify ways of better providing math instruction. Upon the creation of the Transformation Zone, Dr. Mitchell was selected to increase expectations and push for data-driven results at Zone campuses. His work with campuses in the first year set the groundwork for increased graduation rates along with declines in behavior referrals.
But Dr. Mitchell’s heart remained at the schoolhouse and in 2015, he interviewed for the principal position at Lakeshore Middle School. Creating a college preparatory atmosphere, he set ambitious goals for teachers and staff and sought to push the envelope for what was thought possible for the campus. In the process, he led his students and staff to see an increased school letter grade.
As important as academics, Dr. Mitchell said his focus remained on ways to bring the community into the schools he led and change perceptions.
Dr. Mitchell has created a 90-day action plan for Huntington that includes bridging community partnerships, attracting the highest-quality teaching staff and enhancing opportunities for student learning.
“I am most excited to meet with the students of Huntington and see what they want most for their school and how we can work together to make our community’s vision and our students’ vision become one,” Dr. Mitchell said.
To continue the vision outlined for Fair Park, Caddo Superintendent Dr. T. Lamar Goree appointed Felicia O’Neal to become the school’s next principal. O’Neal previously served as assistant principal at Fair Park and Lakeshore Middle and Woodlawn. She began her career in Caddo in 1995 as a teacher at Broadmoor Middle before extensively working to assist campuses in addressing the needs of diverse learning styles. Her background includes experience serving as a supervisor of parent and community involvement, interim director of special education and a professional development specialist.
“The ongoing mission for Fair Park Preparatory Academy will be to continue to provide a high quality educational experience in order for our scholars to successfully meet or exceed rigorous academic goals,” O’Neal said. “Our scholars will be able to problem solve, become critical thinkers, and be able to positively interact within today’s society.
“We pride ourselves on being the only school in Louisiana with Tribal Court (restorative justice program). We look forward to expanding our parental involvement, community partnerships and continuing to develop a STEM culture throughout our campus.”