By James Wright, Special to the AFRO, jwright@afro.com

For the 2018-2019 school year, Frank W. Ballou Senior High School and Anacostia High School, in the Ward 8 Southeastern quadrant of the District of Columbia, have new principals. William Haith is the new principal at Anacostia and Willie Jackson will take the helm at Ballou.

“I want to make sure that Ballou becomes a premier high school,” Jackson said at a news conference on Aug. 10 at the DCPS central headquarters. “I have high expectations for our kids. We will offer courses that are on the level of advance placement and honors so that our students will be SAT and ACT ready.”

William Haith is the new principal for Anacostia High School. (Courtesy Photo)

Haith echoed the same sentiments. “I want to make sure that our students are college and career ready,” he said. “I also want to make sure that we improve the culture in the school and build a bridge to the local community.”

Ballou has a special place in the heart of Jackson because he is a 1987 graduate. Jackson earned his bachelor’s degree from Cheney University and has a master’s in educational leadership from George Mason University. He has worked for District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) for 25 years in a variety of leadership positions.

Haith, also DCPS educated, as a Wilson High School alumnus, holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Liberty University and master’s degree from Virginia College, also. He has worked primarily at Wilson High School, moving from teacher to assistant principal before becoming the resident principal at Kelly Miller Middle School as a Mary Jane Patterson Fellow.

Over the years, both schools have received negative publicity on a wide range of issues. Ballou has been in the news in recent years for grade inflation and students graduating who haven’t met attendance and academic requirements to receive a high school diploma. Anacostia has had incidents with violence and troubles with lack of running water and working restrooms.

However, both principals say their schools are on the rebound. “We have a great teaching staff and our students are enrolled in dual study programs with local universities as well as they participate in study abroad programs,” Jackson told the AFRO. “Our kids are wonderful, and I want to make sure that Ballou is a great place to learn.”

Haith said he is committed to changing the image of Anacostia and wants “the community to see our product.”

“We have our law enforcement academy,” Haith told the AFRO, speaking of the program where students focus on careers becoming the police. “We also have students who are dually enrolled in universities in the city. Anacostia High School is the ‘heartbeat of Southeast’ and we have to re-brand it to make it true.”