William Chavis, the new principal at Enloe High School, says bringing parents and teachers together will be key to the magnet school’s continued success.
Since 2013, Chavis has been principal of Fuquay-Varina Middle School, where students’ test scores have improved and suspension rates have dropped. He credits the positive changes to an increase in parent involvement.
Now Chavis hopes efforts to build community pride at Enloe will help improve the school’s graduation rates.
“We have to create an educational experience that engages all students to do their very best,” Chavis said.
Enloe is known for its competitive academics, but its graduation rate still lags behind the Wake County average. In 2014-15, 81.6 percent of Enloe students graduated in four years, compared to 86.1 percent of students countywide.
Chavis is replacing Scott Lyons, who served as Enloe’s principal since 2012. Lyons now leads Heritage High School in Wake Forest.
Chavis earned a bachelor’s degree from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2004 and began teaching math in the Alamance-Burlington School System. He went on to earn a master’s degree from UNC-Greensboro and a doctoral degree in educational administration and supervision from N.C. State University.
When he came to the Wake school system in 2010, Chavis worked as an assistant principal at Fuquay-Varina High School and then became principal at Fuquay-Varina Middle.
In the 2014-15 school year, 57.8 percent of Fuquay-Varina Middle School students were proficient on state tests. Preliminary data for last school year show the proficiency rate increased to 60.9 percent, said Paige Elliott, assistant principal at the school.
The short-term suspension rate at the school in 2014-15 was 26.2 percent, said Heather Lawing, a Wake schools spokeswoman. Early data show the suspension rate dropped to 13.1 percent last school year.
Chavis said the creation of a group called an “equity team” helped reduce the number of suspensions. The team examined data to understand why students were being suspended, and they worked with teachers to keep kids in the classroom.
Chavis also helped lead a push to get more parents involved at Fuquay-Varina Middle. During his tenure, the school’s PTA increased by 200 members and began including students in its meetings.
“We were able to fully engage a community that was disengaged from the school,” he said.
Julia Walters, the school’s PTA president, said there has been a clear shift.
“Word gets around that, you know, there are bad kids at Fuquay-Varina or they don’t test as well,” she said. “But somehow last year that attitude has changed.”
Walters said she knows moving to Enloe is a positive change for Chavis, but the Fuquay-Varina community is sorry to lose him.
“I know that he’s going to do great things at Enloe,” she said.
After meeting with staff and teachers at Enloe, Chavis said he is happy to be back in a high school environment. The high school years are a pivotal time in students’ academic careers, he said.
“I think this is the age where the influence of adults and other leaders on campus have a significant impact on their futures,” Chavis said.
He said teachers are looking forward to the change to block scheduling, in which students will take fewer, but longer, classes each day. In the past, Enloe has had a tradition of academically competitive students skipping lunch to take an extra class.
“It’s a shift, but we meet that shift with a high level of excitement,” he said.
Chris Cioffi: 919-829-4802, @ReporterCioffi