Celebrating our Heritage and Strengths as a Community
by Patricia O’Flynn Pattillo
Education has long been an equalizer and a launching pad for those who take advantage. And while schools have transitioned over and over again, by law, youngsters are required to attend school until they reach the age of sixteen.
Challenged, in this day of instant information and rapid communications, most schools are continuously seeking new ways of teaching new math and making history relevant or social studies an integral part of growing and understanding cultures and peoples and economies and languages.
Most can remember their school days and dependent upon the experience, it dramatically influenced our love of learning. Those who loved school have great teachers to thank and phenomenal principals who led and guided.
Tommie Myles is just that kind of principal. He loves his school, the staff, and most importantly his students.
“I tell my students, I am going to love you, whether you love me or not. And, if you follow the rules, experience what we bring to you daily, in love, you will not only learn to love this school, you will love learning. And those who love learning are the ones who ultimately become the leaders in the community. Leaders always seek new ways to do things better and that requires reading, inquiring, analyzing and actualizing the results”.
The H.O.P.E. Christian Schools (acronym for “Holding On to Promises Everywhere”), will graduate the Class of 2010 soon, and another group of future leaders will proceed to high school or college.
The Hope Christian Schools are growing and succeeding! Many of the successes can be attributed to Principal Tommie Myles. Never a boaster and quick to acknowledge his team, Myles is Mr. Commitment in capital letters. And driven by his Christian faith, he permits “ God’s will to be done”, in his life and in his school.
Christian faith and Christian principles are base-line requisites for the staff, students and the parents, through their children, at the Hope Schools. “We begin our day with prayer. The students have Chapel, Religion, and we end everyday with prayer.
“The Religion course teaches the basic commandments and explains why we do the things we do. I can tell you that I am more Christian today, than when I began here. Now my living, my actions, my treatment of others is truly aligned with my faith. We must live what we teach and preach; and our whole school is better for it”.
Principal Myles said much of his life has been God-guided. “My training for this post, the schools I attended and the degrees I received were guided through “gifts from God”.
Each opportunity came through the mail, without me even initiating inquiry. In fact, when I graduated from Grambling University with a degree in Art Education, I had no plans to teach other subjects. I started at the County Juvenile Detention Center in Wauwatosa and worked there three years. I knew I wanted to make a difference. I thought my contribution would be in rehabilitating our youth”.
Yet, destiny became evident as Myles moved on to the Marva Collins Preparatory School, teaching third grade through eighth graders where he became a lead teacher. A new program for Administration and Curriculum at Alverno University led to a Masters Degree, followed by an Urban Education Fellows Program at Mount Mary College, which led to licensures in Administration.
“Each credential brought with it more responsibility and greater input in the daily lives of the children. Soon the Board made a job offer to Myles for the principalship at The Hope Christian Schools.”
The Hope Schools have multiple locations. The Heartlove Place, located on King Drive is the headquarters and The Prima location is at 26th and North Avenue; and just a year ago, the newly built Keefe Avenue and Port Washington Avenue Hope Christian High School opened its doors.
You probably have seen the young people in their striking khaki slacks and the crisp blue blazers with the white shirts and blue and gold stripe ties.
If you see the crest on the pocket of the blazer, you know that child has accomplished something special that has been recognized by the school.
It can be academic, or attendance, or volunteerism, or most improved attitude, or willingness to live the principles of the school, each day.
The crest is a mark of excellence the students proudly wear.
The youngsters from the Hope Christian Schools exhibit decorum as they change classes and leave at the end of the day.
Jovial smiles, childish teasing and jostling can be observed and respect for self and property are obvious to neighbors and passer-bys. One is inspired for you know something good is happening within those schools. Hope Schools represent hope!
“We are working on parental involvement. I would love to have more parents actively involved in the athletic and extracurricular activities of our students. However, our staff is inspired.
“We are Christians who believe that we must be servant leaders, thus we have humility for our students and our parents.
“We know that we must be consistent, upholding every rule we put in place, doing what we say we are going to do. We follow through, that is a major part of what you see. We augment credibility.
“You know youngsters want boundaries. They want to know what we expect them to do and they must know that our expectations are worthy.
“We have Bible stories that support every lesson we attempt to teach about expectations, rewards, living the life we pledge to uphold. The Bible has been a master teacher long before we began to teach from it”.
The “Fruits of the Spirit” is the Ceremony where the Crest is awarded. The ceremony is often as important as graduation, for it means that the student has modeled the principles that exemplify the fruits of the spirit.
The counterpoints of approval and recognition are things like fights or poor attendance, or tardiness, or not obeying the teacher. “ Yes, we have expulsions, negative behavior is highly punishable.
“But we try to show the students that good behavior makes things better for themselves, their families, their neighborhoods and our communities. So good behavior is rewarded while negative behavior is punished”.
“Most of our students prefer the rewards. They get points for taking responsibility for positive actions and points can be used in the school store where they can purchase different items, trips with their teachers, books, even video games. This has proven to be a complimentary incentive that supports the values we are introducing”.
Tommie Myles’ concern about building competent students and thereby the future leaders extends to his respect for community.
He grew up in the area where the schools are located. “I’ve watched this neighborhood since I was a boy. My Mother owned and operated the liquor store at 11th and Atkinson Avenue. Her entrepreneurial spirit continues to inspire my brothers and I, today.
“She taught us resilience, respect, refusing to accept negativity, believing in God-given abilities. She passed a year and a half ago but her messages, her counseling, continue to resonate for me each day.”
Principal Myles had watched the King Drive/Atkinson Avenue area stagnate but he feels good about the “light at the end of the tunnel” as the construction of the new high school at Keefe and Port Washington and the new developments across the street from the QF&H building come to fruition.
“We need these changes to re-invigorate the area and motivate our students”.
Encouraging him and supporting his efforts is his gracious wife, Carletta and their three beautiful daughters, who admire his successes.
The new education-leader remains committed to bringing about positive change the age-proven way, through educational expectations and daily follow-through.
Tommie Myles brought HOPE to his students, to the area, and to the Milwaukee community.
And now, as destiny would dictate, on June 30, 2010, Mr. Myles will conclude his Hope School experience and move on the Milwaukee College Preparatory School as an Administrator.
“I leave Hope School knowing it will continue to build great students and future leaders. And I welcome this new opportunity to transfer desirable skills while working with the new team to build more academic successes”. Tommie Myles is truly: A Second Line success!