Cross Keys High School started the school year with a host of changes: a complete renovation has transformed the aging campus, a larger student body with more than 1,000 students and a new principal.
While most principals spent the first day of school helping students navigate their class schedules, Cross Keys’ new principal welcomed the entire student body at an assembly. After a rousing opening from the school band, Dr. Tasharah Wilson set high expectations for the coming year.
“The students seem excited and we’re excited for them,” said Wilson, who had been principal at Avondale High School, which closed. “I’ve heard a great buzz about the building looking great, and everyone says it looks great.”
Wilson took a few minutes to answer questions from writer Jody Steinberg about plans for Cross Keys this year.
Q. What made you choose Cross Keys High School?
A. A great opportunity to serve a highly diverse population.
Q. How do you like it so far?
A. I love it. The community has been very welcoming and the students and staff are great.
Q. Do you have any new programs, changes or community plans you would like to implement this year?
A. We are planning a great International Night. All of the different cultures and nationalities that make Cross Keys great will be represented at International Night. Participants will have the unique opportunity to taste food from different cultures and experience other unique aspects that are showcased.
Q. What are your first year goals for Cross Keys?
A. To ensure that all students are successful and receive the instruction they need to excel. Our ultimate goal is to ensure that all students leave Cross Keys High School college-ready.
Q. What school system changes can we expect to see this year, and how will they look at Cross Keys?
A. One of the major DCSS initiatives this year is identifying each below-grade-level student’s gaps in reading and math and creating a plan to remediate those gaps. Parents of struggling students will be invited to participate in conferences to discuss their student’s Individual Plan for remediation and support to improve. Student progress on the plan will be communicated and strategies for parental assistance will be provided to parents.
Q. What are your long-term goals?
A. My long-term goal is to improve the graduation rate and increase the number of Advanced Placement classes offered.
Q. What do you see as Cross Keys’ strengths?
A. Cross Keys High School is the “new” home of the “old” DeKalb High School Technology North program. Our Career Tech program offers training in Cosmetology Services, Business Career Sciences, Automotive Service Technology , Construction Technology, Dental Science Technology, Manufacturing Technology (Robotics & Automated Systems), Family Consumer Science and Business Information Systems Technology. This year, the new Robotics class will be creating a solar car. These programs provide students with the opportunity to compete in local and state events and competitions sponsored by [professional associations].
Q. What challenges do you foresee?
A. We need to increase the level of parental involvement at CKHS. We are currently seeking parents to serve on the PTSA.
Q. What do you like best about Cross Keys?
A. The students at Cross Keys are the best in DeKalb County. They are very well behaved and driven.
Q. Can you tell us a bit about your family?
A. I was born and raised in Colt, Arkansas. My father is a preacher and my mom a retired teacher. I have three sisters. I currently reside in the metro-Atlanta area with my husband and 2 ½-year-old twin boys, Jared and Joshua. They really keep us busy!
Q. What is your philosophy about education, and how will that be felt and seen at Cross Keys?
A. My philosophy is very simple…ensure that every student reaches their full potential and leave high school college ready. I have very high expectations of students and staff. Together we will accomplish great things.