Five years ago, Northfield High School was just a vision. The idea was to create an inclusive, diverse, International Baccalaureate-for-all school that would close the achievement gap.
It was a lofty goal, and the challenges were many beginning with recruiting kids to a campus that had yet to break ground. There were also competing ideas of what the school would look like, financial woes, and changes in leadership. It was a rocky start, and so much of their success seemed to hinge on their ability to create community. Ezekiel Ocansey, a dean and head basketball coach, stresses that community is built on relationships. He remembers when the school first opened, and he started each day by shaking hands or high-fiving each and every student. “I want the kids to see me as a normal person who’s there to support them. So I have to be transparent about who I am from a professional and relatable perspective. I may or may not look like you, but if we share our experiences, we can learn from each other.”