A conversation with Patrick Henry Principal Latanya Daniels

By Kiana Brown
Last month, US News and World Report magazine published their 2015 article, “Best High Schools in Minnesota” in which Patrick Henry High School ranked third in the State. Patrick Henry High School is one out of 28 high schools in Minneapolis. I sat down with Latanya Daniels, who has just completed her fifth year as principal at Patrick Henry High School, to speak with her and ask her a few questions about how her school achieved such prestigious status.
Q: During your time at Patrick Henry High School, what accomplishments are you most proud of and why?
A: “I’m very proud of the fact that our graduation rate from last school year was 86 percent. We have tied with Southwest’s graduation rate. Patrick Henry High School is located in the center of North Minneapolis and there are stereotypes around schools in North Minneapolis and I’m proud of the fact that our students and teachers have worked to defy those stereotypes. I’m also proud of the fact that for two years consecutively Patrick Henry has been acknowledged as a Reward School by the Minneapolis Board of Education which the highest designation you can receive as a Title I school. We also have the second highest growth in math.”
Q: What would you like the community to know about Patrick Henry High School?
A: “I would like the community to know that Patrick Henry is a high school that is committed to all students being successful once they arrive here. Every student that walks through the doors is taken seriously. We work hard for every student to make sure they are seen, they are known and that they are important. I want the community to know that Patrick Henry is a school that they can trust to send their children to, and once they leave, they can trust that their children will be prepared for higher education and for life beyond Patrick Henry.”
Q: In what ways can parents and people in the community get involved with Patrick Henry High School?
A: “Quinton Bonds has worked very hard to organize a parent group. The parent group has already made an impact on the school. Most recently, they met with Minneapolis Public School of Leadership after the fire and as a result, the school will go through a $25 million renovation project in which central air conditioning system will be installed and our auditorium will be remodeled to enjoy theater acts, plays and concerts. We will also have chimes instead of industrial bells. With these renovations, we will make Patrick Henry High School the school it deserves to be. Parents can see Quinton Bonds to be a part of the parent group. We have parents that have already begun to counter the negatives that are out there about Patrick Henry. After 27 years of being an IB school, I think community members can join hands with us to tell a different story about Patrick Henry. The more the community embraces Patrick Henry the more parents will embrace Patrick Henry as well.”
Q: How would you describe your leadership style as a principal?
A: “My leadership style is leading with my values and my convictions. I lead with what I strongly feel is best for kids. I believe in consistency and I believe in structure, high expectations for students and I believe that I lead in a way that we’re able to deliver all of those things. I can be very direct and my leadership style is collaborative. In my leadership style, I develop other leaders. I like to empower others to lead as well. I believe in collaborating with others and making a decision.”
Q: Has there been anyone that has helped you achieve this high ranking status that you would like to acknowledge?
A: “Absolutely. I could not have done this work without a hardworking team consisting of teachers. They stay the course and they are committed to this community. I have a very talented support team. They are uber committed and most of them live in the community. They’ve helped me and my administrative team figure out what is best for students. I would also like to acknowledge my administrative team. They are creative thinkers. I would like to thank the engineers for building upkeep and I would like to thank Linda and her cafeteria team for providing healthy meals for students. There is no way this accomplishment could have been achieved without all of these people. I would also like to thank my supportive bosses, Mark Bonine, Michael Thomas and Cecilia Saddler. They gave me space to try different things to help us get this far.”
Q: What future projects are you working on for Patrick Henry?
A: “One future project that we are working on currently is differentiation of instruction. We are intentional about having teachers narrowing their instruction to meet the individual need of every student in the class. That’s a huge project and this summer we will be traveling to the University of Virginia to learn how to apply that differentiation work. This also applies to IB courses, advanced placement courses and College in Schools courses. Those teachers must go through earning an Advanced Learners Certificate that will expose them to differentiation of instruction. We also want students to be productive in those courses as well. By the second semester of next year, those teachers who have undergone the workshop will teach the remaining staff to learn differentiation of instruction. We will also focus more on the second phase of Standards Based Grading. We will be clearer to students and parents to let them know what they can expect. The feedback we received regarding this from parents, teachers and students has been overwhelmingly positive. We will continue work on Black Male Achievement with the help of Chris Flemming.”
Patrick Henry High School has obtained many achievements thanks to Principal Daniels, a very hard working woman who cares deeply for her staff and every student that attends Henry High. In the years to come, there is no doubt that Patrick Henry will continue to be successful under the leadership of Principal Daniels.