Angie Crawford Is the New P:rincipal at J.C. Wright Middle School
Definitely Home Grown
“When I was leaving the building the other day after I had met the staff, I was talking to Shelton Kingcade, the MSCR coordinator for Wright and I
said that the school has the reputation for the athleticism and doing so well in sports,” Crawford said. “But I said that there are scholars at Wright
and I want them to see how intelligent students of color are and can be given the opportunity and given the appropriate resources. I want them to
see the academic pieces of this. The gap that we have in the district is huge for students of color. One of the things that I want to look at is how
we can as a school close that gap. It’s going to be a challenge, but I don’t think it is one that can’t be overcome.”
As the South Madison has transitioned, so too has the composition of Wright Middle School students. While it was predominantly African
American in the 1990s, during the 2011-2012 school year, Spanish speakers will make up the largest segment of the student body. And Crawford
is \ready tgo continue to develop her skills to meet the needs of the student body.
“The fact that Wright will be 50 percent Spanish-speaking is great,” Crawford said. “That’s the next challenge that I must overcome because I don’
t know Spanish. Even when I was at Sherman, I started trying to take a Spanish class through MATC, but I ended up dropping it because I was so
inundated with stuff. I felt like if I took a class that I wasn’t held accountable for, I wouldn’t get it done. I need to be held accountable. That is
something that I need to do for me so I can be more connected to that community.
“It isn’t just about being connected to the African American community. It’s about being connected to the student population and being able to be
connected with all families and being visible and supportive of everyone. For me, that is my next hurdle to overcome. But I do have the
resources and people to come in and assist me with helping to reach that community as well. But the thing that is common about the Latino,
Asian and African American communities is that we all are coming from a communal culture. And so, even though there are differences, there
are a lot similarities. That’s the place where I can come from in order to make the connections initially. But I want to relate with the families
directly. I’m a people person. So you’re talking with me and I’m talking to you and I need your help and you need my help. We’re going to do this
together and really connect not just with the students, but also with the families is key.”
As a “home grown” professional from the Madison Metropolitan School District — Crawford has spent 31 years with the district as a student and
staff — Crawford has seem the district from many different perspectives. This will allow her to be a team leader.
“Because I have worked in so many different roles, the value and worth that each position has, I have a different perspective on that,” Crawford
said. “Everyone has something to contribute to the end result, which is to increase student achievement. And because I have been in those
roles, it is all valued. It all has worth. We’re all doing this together. You have something to give to increase this capacity and to help kids in the
end. So having that more inclusive lens instead of just being on the teachers’ or administrators’ side will be helpful.
“And I am on the parents’ side because I am a parent of a student who is in middle school. And I have a daughter who graduated from Madison
schools. And I am a community member active in the community. So I think it bodes well for everyone when you are able to look at it from a
variety of perspectives and not just from that hierarchical structure. I see it as we are all in this together and we’re going to make this work. And
we are all going to move together. I view it just like a family. If one of your family members isn’t doing his/her job, then we have to help them
pick up to increase their output so we can all move forward together.”
Children learn the importance of education from their parents. And Crawford wants to develop a learning community in which parents and
students are learning and striving together.
“Wright is doing some wonderful things as a staff,” Crawford observed. “That is not my goal to change that. One of the goals that I hope to pursue
through some grant opportunities is to create an adult resource center of some type so that the parents understand their worth and value and the
importance of them helping to actualize their children’s dreams. A lot of parents don’t have that developed, so they don’t know how to give it to
their children. We’re all trying to figure out how to parent together. There are books out there, but they don’t mean a whole lot. We parent by trial
and error. We do what we think is best. So if we all come together and support each other, we can increase our skills as parents and also help
our children to grow. Again, the old African proverb that it takes a village to grow a child is so true. That has not gone away. That is how I grew
up. That is still a great big part of my philosophy.”
While middle school has many different offerings for students, the bottom line for Crawford is that Wright Middle School prepares students to be
productive, contributing adults.
“I am going to do whatever it takes to increase student achievement and do what we can do to close that gap,” Crawford emphasized. “And we
want to decrease the largest achievement gap in the country. Ultimately, the bottom line is to help kids be productive citizens in society and
create life-long learners.”
Crawford knows what she is talking about. Her life-long drive to learn and achieve has placed her at the helm of Wright Middle School.
Angie Crawford has spent 31 years with the Madison
Metropolitan School District as a student or staff.
By Jonathan Gramling
Part 2 of 2
Angie Crawford, the incoming principal at Wright Middle School, is a reflection of what it
takes to be a success story in South Madison, a lot of struggle and determination.
Crawford grew up on the streets of South Madison, one of four children of a mother who
worked hard to raise her children. There were influences in South Madison that could
have taken Crawford either way. Crawford decided to make something of herself and
there were the resources — the Village — there to help her realize her dreams.
Crawford feels honored to be the principal of the middle school named after Rev. James
C. Wright, her former pastor and is determined that the school live up to the values he