As a proud product of the School Without Walls, I found myself utterly disgusted with the recently published article about Mrs. Emily Crandall (“A Matter of Principal,” 9/4). It is so very easy to criticize and make a scapegoat out of a person who doesn’t fit the “norm” for a typical principal. Was the article accurate? Barely. Did the article paint Mrs. Crandall as a manipulative perfectionist? Yes. But isn’t that why most Walls students love her? Let’s not kid ourselves on this subject: The District of Columbia Public Schools are in a state of disaster. Violence, crime, poor test scoresisn’t that what most people associate with DCPS? Sad to say, but it is. Mrs. Crandall doesn’t fit the “norm” because, apparently, the “norm” isn’t getting the job done.
Call me biased, but the education along with the structure that School Without Walls (and Mrs. Crandall) provides is, if not the best, one of the best that you can get in the entire area. Go to any past or present Walls students and ask them why they picked it as their high school. Like the school or not, I can assure you that the majority of the responses will be, “Because I wanted to have the chance to do internships, and I liked the alternative setting that it provides.” Mrs. Crandall may have a different style of enforcing her authority, but a bad or inefficient principal she is not. Sure, she has expelled several students, but did anyone ever think of why? I know for a fact that some, if not all, of the students expelled were some of the brightest kids around, but they made several major mistakes that just weren’t tolerable. So Mrs. Crandall expels “bad apples”so what? Believe me, all the students who have the privilege to attend Walls know what is expected of them. The “three strikes and you’re out rule” doesn’t apply in this situation, and students know that. It is made crystal-clear in the beginning that it’s the “one strike and you’re out” rule. That is precisely what makes Walls such a magnificent high school to attend.
As students, it is easy for us to take for granted how much Mrs. Crandall means to us. Sure, she may seem strict and overpowering at times, but those are the times when you realize how much she really cares about each and every student. Mrs. Crandall takes drastic measures to make sure that each and every one of her students is successful. It is Mrs. Crandall’s approach that has helped mold many children into responsible adults. That is exactly the type of people that we need in this community.