This year, the first students to walk through the doors of Herron High School as freshmen will graduate. All 87 of them have been accepted to college.
For the little school located in the former Herron School of Art and Design building at the corner of Pennsylvania and 16th streets, this year’s graduation will be an emotional one. “We’ve watched these students grow and mature and really become great citizens. We’re very proud of them, but it’s also sad, we’ve never had the school without them,” says principal Janet McNeal.
Like the students, the school’s faculty has achieved a lot in the four years the charter school has been open. With a focus on a classical liberal arts education, the school has made some remarkable achievements.
In 2008, Herron students achieved the highest ISTEP scores in language arts and math in Marion county and in 2009 the school ranked as the top performing public high school in Indiana’s improvement and accountability measures. The Indiana Department of Education designated Herron as achieving ‘exemplary progress.’
“We don’t spend a lot of time worrying about what anybody else does, but we do feel like we have some statistics that are pretty powerful,” McNeal says.
McNeal credits the success of the school with the dedication of the teachers, who spend a minimum of two hours each week and an additional nine days each school year on professional development. They are also encouraged to present material in creative ways, while incorporating literacy and numeracy into each lesson. “We work on creating a cohesive curriculum where subjects really complement each other,” McNeal says.
The school’s curriculum runs along an art history timeline, where students explore the classic art and literature of many cultures, beginning with ancient African civilization in freshman year. Students are also required to study Latin each year.
Herron’s goal now is to raise funds so the school can expand into the other buildings on the ‘campus,’ and move out of the modulars that are located on the east and west sides of the one building that the school now occupies.
“Right now we would love to be able to just spread our wings, we would love to have more room for labs, we would love to have more room for our history and our choir, we need to spread out,” McNeal says.
“We just have faith that because of the good work we’re doing something is going to come our way,” she adds.