A High-Poverty School in Watts Gets the Ultimate Makeover

A principal and a team of dedicated volunteers transform a California school into a colorful and safe environment.

Griffin Matthew, his team of changemakers, and the school principal came together to transform Jordan High. (Photo: Mariana Blanco)

Sep 20, 2012
Jenny Inglee is a Los Angeles-based journalist and the Education Editor at TakePart.

Jordan High School, located in the gang-ridden neighborhood of Watts, California, has historically been known for dropout rates, not for high achievement. Principal Ronnie Coleman of Green Dot Public Schools and a group of dedicated teachers have set out to change this. Together, they are boosting achievement and showing students that graduating from high school and attending college is within their grasp.

While advancements were made inside the classroom, with the help of Green Dot Public Schools, the outside of Jordan High still looked like a barren prison yard. Recently, changemaker Griffin Matthews of Uganda Project, along with a group of dedicated volunteers, local businesses, muralists, and community members stepped in to give the school grounds the ultimate makeover.

Like Jordan High, many schools need help creating a safe and comfortable environment for their kids. To do this, teachers often spend money out of their own pockets. In fact, public school teachers pay on average $40 per month on school supplies. That is $3 billion per year.

You can help support inspiring teachers, like the ones at Jordan High, by getting involved in TakePart's Great Back-to-School Challenge. Take two minutes to help fund the future—one classroom at a time.

This classroom project is almost funded! Help Mr. Dziepak and his seventh graders build an urban garden today:

Other projects that need your support include supplying military kids in Tennessee with math books, Ohio kids with musical instruments, and refugee students in Indiana with language tools.

Editor's Note: A special thanks go to all the people that made this video possible:

Kim Hamer and everyone at Green Dot, Veronica Coleman, Charles Boulden, Maria Razo, Flor Gomez, Latonia and Victor Lopez, Mark Evans, ihe teachers and students of Amino Preparatory College, LAUSD, Griffin Matthews and Matt Gould, Uganda Project, Isaac and Irene Mason, Valdez Gardening Services, SoCal Nursery, California Cactus Center, SoCal Pottery, Succulent Designs, Pronto Piza, and all 72 Volunteers!

Jenny is the Education Editor at TakePart. She has been writing for TakePart since 2009 and previously worked in film and television development. She has taught English in Vietnam and tutors homeless children in Los Angeles. Email Jenny | @jennyinglee | TakePart.com

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