Hampton City Schools – HCS Connects – October 9, 2019


(upbeat guitar music) Hello, and welcome to HCS Connects. I’m Kellie Goral, with
Hampton City Schools. Today, we have James Harris,
the executive principal of Phoebus High School, here with us today to tell us all about him, and
what’s going on at Phoebus. So welcome to HCS Connects. – Yes, thank you for having me. [Kellie] – Yeah, absolutely. Is this your first time on the show? – It sure is. – Ah, and also your first time
as an executive principal. [James] – Yes, ma’am. – So we’re over at Phoebus
this year, correct? [James] – Yes ma’am. – So before we get into what’s going on this year at Phoebus,
tell us a little bit about yourself, as far as where
you started in education. – Certainly, as a military
child grew up around the world, moved here from Korea, then enrolled here at Barron Fundamental Elementary School, followed by Eaton Middle School, and then Phoebus High
School, where I graduated as a Bill Gates Millennium Scholar. I then went on to pursue
post-secondary education at Hampton University,
where I received both my bachelor’s and my master’s degree. – So you’ve been in Hampton
since elementary school, even as a military child? [James] – Even as a military child. – That’s very fortunate,
because like you said, you moved around, but landed here. [James] – Yes. – And you are an alum of Phoebus, and now you’re back at Phoebus
as the executive principal. I mean that’s, that’s awesome. [James] – Full circle.
– Full circle, exactly. So and you said you were
a millennial scholar, what exactly is that? – Well it’s a recognition scholarship. A recognition for graduating
seniors, in which, it’s a competitive application
process that students have the opportunity to pursue. Where you secure
recommendors, and nominators, and you go through a screening process, and then they select a
very specific few students to pursue their post-secondary options. [Kellie] – It’s a big deal.
– It’s a big deal. – Make it sound like a big deal, you’re trying to make it sound like “Oh, it’s an application
process” and it’s a big deal. – It is. – I mean that is a very big
deal, I mean there are what, 20,000 plus,
– Plus. – We’re talking worldwide? – Worldwide. – Not just Virginia, not just
The United States, worldwide. And they’ve narrowed
that down to under 1,000? – Yes. – Is that correct? – That is correct. – So you’re allowed to toot
your own horn a little bit, that’s a big deal, a big deal for Hampton, and a big deal for James Harris,
to be a Millennial Scholar, so congratulations to that. – Oh, thank you, thank you. – And you had said earlier,
that you really attribute that to the education that
you received at Hampton, with Hampton City Schools
and Phoebus High School. – Oh absolutely,
absolutely, and the support, the family environment
that I have received at Phoebus High School, and
just the amazing connections, and the exposure. It was one of those
experiences where I know that if it weren’t for the people
there, that I probably wouldn’t have ended up where I was. [Kellie] – And then where you are now. – And then where I am now, so. [Kellie] – That’s excellent. – Exactly, yeah. – So once you finished your
Undergrad and your Grad, tell us about your teaching experience, and your administrative experience. – Well I worked for The
Breakthrough Collaborative, for a couple of years, which
is a non-profit organization which links under-resourced students to post-secondary options, so
we worked in middle schools, and also in the inner city. So I worked in Sacramento,
California, and I also worked in well, it’s housed in Norfolk
Academy in Norfolk, Virginia. – So you were all the way across, on the other side of The
United States, in California, and then came back with that, okay. – Yes, and then I also worked
for Educational Talent Search, which is housed Federal Trio
Program at Hampton University. I started my teaching career
at Hampton High School, where I taught social studies, in the International Baccalaurate program. I taught a variety of classes there, then I became the assistant
principal at Bethel High School, and also the Freshman
Academy Principal there, and now I’m here at Phoebus High School as the executive principal. – So you’re just missing
Kecoughtan, I mean really, you’ve been everywhere but Kecoughtan. [James] – Yes, yes. – You were a crabber, a bruin,
and now you’re a phantom. [James] – Now I’m a phantom, again. – Again, again, you’re right,
you started there, as well. So you said you were the
Freshman Academy Principal at Bethel High School, so what were some of the
responsibilities you had as a Freshman Academy Principal? – Well within the Freshman
Academy Principal, it’s really working in
conjunction with your Freshman Academy Counselor,
a team of teachers that are dedicated to
students exploring themselves, identifying those questions of “Who am I, “What do I want, and how do I get there?” And making sure that the
teachers and the students both have the supports that
they need to enter into what college or career academy they choose after ninth grade, so it’s
really that foundational year, and I was there to serve as
that support for the students, and the parents, and the
community, and making sure that all are involved as we move
the students into their college or career academy. – So now you’re over at Phoebus, and they have four college
and career academies as well, so tell us about those four
college and career academies. – Oh, they are Digital Video Production, we have Advanced College
Experience at Phoebus, we also have the Academy of Cybersecurity, Engineering and Robotics, and we also have the Academy
of Hospitality and Tourism. So there’s a wide variety
for students to pursue whichever interest they may have. – That’s excellent. Now, you know you’ve been an
administrator in a high school, you were at Bethel, now you’re at Phoebus, but really as that executive principal, what have you enjoyed the most,
this first month of school? – Oh, I’ve certainly
enjoyed just getting to know the students, getting to know the staff, getting to know the
community, the out pouring of love and support from
the alumni upon my return to Phoebus has been a great asset. They’ve even partnered with us on various initiatives already,
so I’ve just enjoyed embracing the community,
and getting back to really serving the students, and
the community, and Phoebus. That has been the joy. – And there’s a lot of
good things going on, like last year with
the Culinary, they were national HUNCH winner, I
mean there are just a lot of great things, what was
it, the food to table, or ground to table campaign,
over also, that they won it from Ford NGL. So 100% accredited without
conditions, there’s a lot of great things going on at Phoebus. – Yes. – So you’re stepping into a great school, but you obviously have
some goals of your own, as you’re going forward, so
tell us about those goals. – Well our three overarching
things that we have this year, is to build community, to ensure we have that family-like environment
for our students, and our teachers, also
to unlock the potential. There are so many students
and staff that we believe that you don’t have to get straight A’s, but you have to give a straight A effort. So we definitely want to
ensure that we are doing all that we can to support our students, and our number one goal is to
enrich the Phantom experience, to make Phoebus High
School the premier school in terms of student achievements, Student, student gains, and
to continue that upward trend that we are seeing with
our students and their engagement level. [Kellie] – And what is
the slogan for Phoebus? Because we hear this all the time. – Our purpose is greatness
every day, every way, and we start every morning with good, better, best, never let it rest, until your good is your better, and your better is your best. – I love it. That’s xcellent. Now, there is probably
not a lot of “me time” whenever you’re an executive principal, because you know, like you
said there is a lot going on, and it’s not just during
the instructional day, it’s after, after school as well. And that’s instruction
after school, those are extra-curricular activities,
meeting with your stakeholders, supporting your students in sports, but I know that there are
other things that James Harris likes to do, so tell us a
little bit about your hobbies, or interests. – Well, I’m a runner, so that’s probably about
all I have time for outside of school, is to really train, I like to run marathons,
and half-marathons, I just completed the Crawlin’
Crab this past Sunday. So that’s where I spend a lot of my time, in training for marathons, and racing. I’m also an avid reader, I love to read. And any time that I get to
spend with my little one, my daughter and my family. – So a runner, now we have
the Run 4 the Stage 5K, annually, that’s the
fundraiser for our students that are going to community college, and I have seen you out there, trying to get that first place, and I think you’ve come
real close; not last year, maybe the year before, I’m
usually at the back of the pack, but I’m still having fun
and supporting our students. So you like to run, which
that is easier probably to find time because you
can get up at O dark thirty and do that before the day begins, and then also you mentioned your child, so you really enjoy that as well. Any other things that are coming
up for Phoebus High School, this year that we should be,
you know, on the outlook for? – We are just really making
sure that we’re embracing the community, and that we
are inviting the community members, our feeder middle
schools into the school to see the academies in
action, because we believe that we have some great
academies and opportunities for our students to pursue, and our teachers are just excited about the tremendous trajectory in
terms of where we’re headed. – And you are headed in a
great place, and the academies have been a huge success all around for Hampton City Schools,
to go wall-to-wall, and those are our juniors
this year, so next school year we’ll be wall-to-wall from
freshman through seniors, but it is really exciting to
go in and really look at those learning spaces, and
see the students engaged in the different academies and
the opportunities they have, and those project-based learning, and challenge-based learning projects that they’re working on. So that’s great that you’re
having people come in to really experience that,
because once you see it, it’s just, you know, you
could put it into words, but that visual, and that experience and seeing the students, it just takes it to a whole other level. [James] – Certainly. – Alright, so Phoebus
High School, the Phantoms, a lot going on right now with the fall, you’ve got football season as well. – Football season, and we
expect a longer season (laughs). [Kellie] – You expect a longer season – A longer season than a regular season. – Last year, Phoebus
had a longer season than a regular season, so we’ll
see if we see some good things coming there, I know that field hockey is getting real strong. [James] – Yes, yes. – So a lot of extra things
for the students as well. – Absolutely, absolutely. [Kellie] – And we also
look forward to seeing you and your leadership there
for the Phantoms this year. – Certainly. – And thank you for joining us today. [James] – Thank you for having me. – And thank you for
joining us on HCS Connects. In the meantime, stay connected with us, follow us on Instagram,
Twitter, and Facebook, jump over to our website, or PEG-TV. Thanks and have a great day. (upbeat guitar music)

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