INDIANAPOLIS - One of America’s leading educators was in town for Indiana Black Expo Summer Celebration to speak at the education conference as the keynote speaker.
Marvin Thompson is the star of an Oprah Winfrey Network documentary series that focuses on turning around a New Orleans school.
The series, “Blackboard Wars,” chronicles Thompson’s turnaround as principal of John McDonogh High School in New Orleans. The school is considered to be one of the worst public high schools in the U.S.
Thompson has become an influential critic of America’s public school system and a leader on how to fix it.
“Collectively, when you take all parts of public education and how it comes together, I give it an F minus,” Thompson said.
Thompson credits his teachers for helping turnaround the now charter school where he said he spent the year building a culture of respect that was lacking and holding kids back from learning.
“I said to them once that they don't know what they're capable of. They don't know yet but they now know what they want and they're going to find out what they're capable of in that journey," Thompson said.
Brian Dinkins, principal of John Marshall Community High School, said Thompson is what educators aspire to become.
“We still have a long way to go, but when you create an environment where kids know they're loved and appreciated, they come," Dinkins said.
Thompson tells students that they matter and he is not afraid to take on an educational system and indifferent parents that he says are failing America’s children.
The education conference will take place all day on Thursday at the Indiana Convention Center.
Follow Chris Proffitt on Twitter: @chrisproffitt