With graduation behind them and students out for the summer, Knightdale High School administrators are focusing on what’s next as they become Knightdale High School of Collaborative Design.
Thanks to a recent donation from a local business owner, some projects have just been made a lot easier.
Raleigh Scrap Metal Recycling President and CEO Greg Brown recently donated a total of $30,000 to the Wake County Public Schools System.
Of that contribution, $5,000 will be funneled to Knightdale High School toward environmental projects.
The other $25,000 will go toward professional development for teachers in the county.
“The thing that suprises me the most is that people don’t do it more often,” Brown said of his donation.
Last summer, Brown faced an armed robbery at his company and was almost killed.
Several weeks later, he stumbled upon a Nicholas Kristof column called “When Whites Just Don’t Get It,” which describes wage and education gaps between white Americans and minorities.
After facing his own near-death experience, Brown decided to give generously.
“I almost get killed and my response is to give to the school district,” Brown said with an ironic laugh. “It’s everyone’s issue, and as a team we need to figure out what to do about it. The school system has let down the black male.... of course, it’s a national discussion.”
He had heard that Knightdale High School was working with specific enironmental projects, which is why he directed a portion of his gift to the eastern Wake school.
Knightdale High School principal James Argent said that the specific use of funds has yet to be decided, but it would likely be a multi-tier project surrounding recycling, service-learning and the school’s curriculum.
“Having a supportive business community is so important,” he said. The school has been searching for business partners and mentors for its upcoming redesign.
Even more important than financial help, Argent added is expertise with local businesses.
“That’s the exciting piece, to get teachers aligned with Mr. Brown or at least with that industry,” he said. “We are extremely grateful.”
Donations this size are not frequent, said Angie Wright, senior director for the office of grants at WCPSS.
“I’m not aware of one of this magnitude,” she said. “It’s not commonplace.”
School system leaders have decided to use their share of Brown’s gift to form a fund called the “Four C’s Fund” which will incorporate their five-year strategic plan of developing students who are collaborative, communicative, critical thinkers and creative.
“We are going to be using this to support individual teachers or teams of teachers to infuse the four c’s into the learning environment,” Wright added.
It’s not just about the money, Brown said. She also wants the business community to “spend more time helping students,” he said.
Although Brown splits his time between Michigan, New York and N.C., he chose WCPSS for his donation.
“There’s a lot of money in this town,” he said. “But without education we’ve got nothing.”