Marian White-Hood (far right) stands with staff and friends at Potomac Charter’s ribbon cutting.

Potomac Preparatory Charter School turns a new leaf with a new campus, program and leadership. Formerly known as Potomac Lighthouse PCS, the school has existed in Ward 5 for nearly 10 years, but has a past reputation of high turnover rates among leadership and teachers. This year, the school’s new principal, Dr. Marian White-Hood came out of retirement to turn the school around for the campus’ Pre-K through middle school students. At the “Embrace the Journey” dedication ceremony for the school on Oct. 30, White-Hood told the AFRO, “ dedicating ourselves to the educational vision and mission of the school.”

White-Hood formerly worked as chief academic officer at Maya Angelou Public Charter School in the District and served as principal at several public schools in Prince George’s County, Md. She was named Maryland State Principal of the Year, Washington Post Distinguished Principal and Prince George’s County Public Schools’ Outstanding Educator. She was also selected as a Milken Family Educator and received a $25,000 award. With over 30 years of experience in education, she believes she can bring restoration to Potomac.

Children line up for school outside of Potomac Preparatory’s new campus.

“Young principals go in with new data and new information, but sometimes when you have a seasoned person who’s used to working with parents and children and ca n see through issues in a moment’s notice, you get a difference,” she said.

An aggressive student recruitment campaign included reaching out to former students, having parents act as ambassadors and reaching out to students who attended schools that closed in some of D.C.’s east-of-the-river neighborhoods. While the student recruitment goal was aimed at 300, the campaign was able to bring in 425 students for the 2014-2015 school year.

Dr. Marian White-Hood, Principal/Head of Schools Potomac Preparatory addresses students, parents and grandparents at the dedication ceremony for the new school.

The school’s new curriculum and culture is catered toward academic acceleration, character development and arts-infused courses that reach, teach and inspire students. Additionally, as some students face homelessness, live-in foster care or single-parent households, the school’s new holistic approach also addresses the social well-being of students.

“We’re addressing and looking at things through different lenses,” said White-Hood. “A lot of the activities that we’re doing now are developmentally sound and socially relevant to the children.”

Guest speakers for the dedication ceremony included Kenyan McDuffie, Ward 5 councilmember, Dr. Ramona Edelin, executive director at the D.C. Association of Chartered Public Schools and Mark Jones, Ward 5 representative at the State Board of Education.

Potomac’s new staff members also include Eugene Randall as dean of students and Steven Foster as director of operations. Additionally, over 50 percent of the school’s teachers are African American males who participate in a professional development program where they are monitored and supported to be successful.

“We’re pushing up on our 10-year review,” said White-Hood. “We’re going to continue our turnaround plan moving forward and we hope to have excellent results.”