Like a gem on a solitaire-style ring, Prosper High School sits on the north edge of Prosper cultivating future generations, a true jewel of the community. With a new principal this year, Dr. John Burdett, things are different, but also the same.
Burdett said he’s had no surprises since taking over the head spot, but there have been plenty of affirming moments that tell him the school is on the right track. Many of those come while visiting various classrooms. “When I’ve been able to see the people I hired and others I saw in the spring teach, I’ve been extremely impressed,” Burdett said. “It’s affirming to realizing we not only got what we expected when hiring our teachers, we got much more.” He’s really excited at the level of teaching he sees in the classrooms from both the new hires and the teachers who were already in place.
He said the young adults at the school have been great and their parents fantastic. “It has only affirmed the decision I made to be here,” Burdett said. “This is my calling.” He says he encourages parent involvement and feels parents can’t get too involved. “People want what’s best for their kids and I love that. I am not one who believes parents can ever be too involved. The more involved, the better. At the end of the day, people want what’s best for their kids, and what a great place to be where parents always are available and supportive for their kids, teacher and staff.
One of the changes highlighting this year on the PHS campus is “Eagle Time.” Burdett describes it as a 30-minute spot in each day giving teachers and students alike the opportunity for planning, tutoring, studying, mentoring and more. Administrators were able to carve out this time by shaving off minutes here and there throughout the daily schedule and without extending the length of time spent at school.
Growth is on everybody’s mind because it’s at the forefront of almost every issue in Prosper. The school is meeting it head on with a positive attitude. Each period during the day, “there are 3,000 opportunities for us to connect with a kid,” Burdett said. “How awesome is that? Next year we are going to have 3,500 opportunities every single period. We have five periods a day so that means we have 15,000 opportunities every day to connect with a kid. It’s a huge compliment to our community that people keep coming, when they could bypass us and go to Celina, McKinney and a lot of places, but they want to come here.”
When asked to name a favorite department at the school, he was unable to single one out. But a walk across the campus included a stop at the Culinary Arts classroom where Chefs Cristina Goodman and Brett Claypoole hold classes.
Librarians Dianna Weber and Jenna Hutt were also at their posts in the school library. The two of them talked about how a line is outside the library during Eagle Time as students wait for someone to exit so they can enter. Also new this year in the library is a way for students to relieve stress on a table-top coloring design. It’s been out for a few weeks and still has some uncolored areas, but not many.
In the hall, Burdett was approached by two students, Isabella Alicea, who concentrates on fashion and design, and her friend Rachel Bailey who plays soccer for the school and on a competitive club team. Burdett was proud to explain that Alicea has started a business and dropped off brochures with teachers only the day before. She explained that it’s a business to make repairs during class time. “We will sew on a button or whatever is needed,” she said. “We passed out brochures yesterday and today we have three projects.” And while she had the principal’s attention, Alicea pitched another idea she has to promote the fashion department within the school. “It’s a good idea, let’s talk about it more,” Burdett told her.
It looks like Prosper High School is in good hands moving forward. As new students come into the district and new schools are built, it’s positive attitudes like the one coming from Burdett that will carry the district through the changes.
“We continually ask how we can get better, how can we improve,” Burdett said. “We are servants for the public and we want to do better.”
The development of thousands of students has been entrusted to the teachers and administration at Prosper High School. That trust has been well placed.
Joyce Godwin | Joyce@CedarbrookMedia.com