Why not Gibbs High School?

‘Principal Barry Brown (right) and his team have a data-based plan, are implementing the plan, readily admit fault and solicit assistance,” said Dr. Goliath Davis.

BY GOLIATH J. DAVIS, III, Ph.D. | Contributor

ST. PETERSBURG — Critics of my columns on Lakewood and Boca Ciega High Schools — especially those who support former Lakewood Principal Erin Savage — continue to ask why I have not written an article on Principal Barry Brown and Gibbs High School. It has even been asked whether I have issues only with female principals.

I must remind my critics that I advocated for Savage’s promotion and the promotion of other female assistant principals to principals.

My columns are written to inform but, more importantly, to inspire change at several levels, including school leaders, scholars, district administrators, parents and the community. An important consideration is always whether the school leader demonstrates a willingness and ability to address the issues occurring at their schools effectively.

Like Lakewood and Bogie, Brown has had his share of school disruptions and academic challenges. These facts cannot be denied. However, there are several significant distinctions. Principal Brown has a plan. He is keenly aware of his issues, implements strategies to create a positive school environment and culture and is always accessible and proactively informative.

Brown consistently demonstrates an understanding of his school’s metrics. He knows which scholars are on track to graduate and which are not. For those who are not, appropriate strategies are implemented and monitored. Hallways and other areas are staffed and monitored at the appropriate times to deter and minimize disruptions.

Brown lobbied for Gibbs High School because he sincerely believes he can make a difference. He has a unique background that allows him to relate well to the scholars attending Gibbs, and he is quite effective at establishing relationships with otherwise difficult scholars in need of special attention. His compassion and empathy are also assets. He is always visible and involved.

Brown has an attribute I find exceedingly admirable: he readily admits fault and never hesitates to ask for assistance. If I were asked to offer a tip to him, I would ask him to consider whether or not his background leads him to retain some students who may need to be separated longer than he should.

Parents and scholars must understand schools are institutions for learning academically as well as socially. They are also places where you can have fun — sports, clubs, dances, etc. Scholars not committed to learning and insist on causing disruptions should justifiably be separated, and their parents must work with school leadership and the district to eliminate disruptions and facilitate education.

All our schools need parental and community support, and effective school leaders are essential. I will continue to write and inform, hoping to ensure both become a reality and the achievement gap is closed. So, the answer to the question: “Why not Gibbs High School?” is simple. Principal Brown and his team have a data-based plan, are implementing the plan, readily admit fault and solicit assistance.

Goliath Davis is a former chief of police and deputy mayor for the City of St. Petersburg who actively advocates for education in Pinellas County.

9 Replies to “Why not Gibbs High School?”

  1. Tony says:

    Why does he have so much to say about a county he no longer lives in. Kinda of a long armed attach. Black on black violence.

    1. Goliath J. Davis, III, Ph.D. says:

      Tony, you are misinformed. I was born and raised in St. Pete and still reside here. I have earned the right to say anything I wish about my home town. I respect your right to disagree.
      Goliath J. Davis, III, Ph.D.

  2. Dan McCarthy says:

    My criticism of you is about you lack of professionalism. You didn’t do your background work or even try to reschedule your appointment with Ms. Gil. To suggest that she does not have a plan is an insult to every teacher at Boca Ciega High School. How would you know. You didn’t even talk to her. The fact is that in in just one year Ms. Gill has brought Boca Ciega High School from an F school to a C school, a remarkable feat in itself and could not have been accomplished without the support of the teachers.

    You owe Ms. Gil a public apology 😡

    1. Goliath J. Davis, III, Ph.D. says:

      Mr. McCarthy, I suggest you re-read my column. You have made several incorrect inferences. I owe no one an apology. I do have an appointment with Principal Gil. I am also happy to speak with you if you wish. Thanks for your comments. Please know I have the utmost respect and admiration for teachers and I am very aware of the challenges they and administrators face. If you have time, please read the entire collection of my writings in the Weekly Challenger. It may help you understand my work and my mission.
      Goliath J. Davis, III, Ph.D.

  3. Marilyn Bell says:

    Thank you so much Dr. Goliath J Davis for providing so much useful information about our education system. I think you hit the nail on the head with the information about parents and community. Our parents have to be actively involved in the educational process for their children, because they know them best and can be an invaluable asset to the school and the system. Our community needs to embrace our schools and provide proper support. Something as sitting with a scholar that needs additional support can provide invaluable support to the instructional support. Our churches need to be more actively involved helping with our scholars. HELP!!!
    Gender has nothing to do with if schools are successful. I have see schools effective by both. Mr. Brown has learned that it’s effective to be proactive. He had his bumps and bruises at John Hopkins Middle School without proper support from the district. Having a team that has the expertise to produce successful scholars. Mr. Brown has an open attitude about accepting ideas and process that’s helpful for the staff, scholars and school. Congratulations to him and his staff for making a difference in the lives of the scholars at Gibbs High School.

  4. S. Rose Smith-Hayes says:

    Ms. Bell, thank you for your comments about parent, community and church involvement. Those are keys to our children’s success in school and in life.
    I hope Dr. Davis will address the Boca Ciega situation.
    I appreciate Dr. Davis looking into these matters because we will not get this information otherwise.

  5. Goliath J. Davis, III, Ph.D. says:

    Tony, you are misinformed. I was born and raised in St. Pete and still reside here. I have earned the right to say anything I wish about my home town. I respect your right to disagree.
    Goliath J. Davis, III, Ph.D.

  6. Goliath J. Davis, III, Ph.D. says:

    For all who insist I do not reside in the City of St. Petersburg, let me set the record straight. Although I own properties in other areas of the State, I assure you, I have resided in St Pete since Birth and my current St. Pete residences have been in my possession for more than40 years.
    With all due respect, rather than question why I “have so much to say for someone who doesn’t live here”, I suggest the more salient question should be: ” Why do those who live here say so little or nothing about the current plight of our Scholars in the Pinellas County School system?”
    I can use some help. Any and all assistance is welcomed.
    Goliath J. Davis, III, Ph.D.

  7. KJ says:

    Perhaps I’m imagining things, but I am pretty sure I have seen/read at least three stories in the past year of Gibbs High having students arrested on campus who turned out to be in possession of firearms. At least one was in connection with a murder. Then there are the fights and harassment of students that don’t make the local news. Yet, you have nothing but praise for their male principal.

    Since Mr. Brown is so perfect and doing such a great job, why don’t you facilitate a few sessions where he meets with the principals you feel are doing a horrible job, as they face the same school environments, and see if he can provide them with insight and strategies for success.

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