Previously: With her public charter middle school finally up and running, Jallon Brown can breathe a sigh of relief. Today marks the end of her stint as the subject of this feature. To catch up on previous episodes, go to www.washingtonpost.com/adventures.
Jallon brown tells the skinny girl with glasses how disappointed she is in her behavior. The fifth-grader, who had been teasing another girl in math class for having a bad-hair day, droops her chin in shame.
"Now I want you to apologize," the 31-year-old principal says.
"I'm sorry," the girl mutters between tight lips, looking at the floor.
"Louder," commands Jallon. This time the girl with glasses looks directly at her classmate and apologizes loud enough for the whole class to hear. Jallon nods toward teacher Ann Hammer, who resumes a lesson on rounding numbers.
It is the final day of the first week at KIPP Harbor Academy, a public charter middle school near Annapolis. Jallon spent months fighting to get the school opened. "Now it's a whole new set of issues," says Jallon, who is finally tackling her real work, educating students. That may prove to be the greater challenge. Many of KIPP Harbor Academy's students have arrived reading below grade level. Most are from low-income families. And a few are chronically disruptive, including a boy with a high-pitched voice who won't stop calling out in class.
"He needs a male role model," Jallon says. After lunch, she finds him one, pairing him with Andy Smarick, who works for a charter school advocacy group and is one of the school's board members. For most of the afternoon, Smarick and the boy solve math problems in an empty classroom. Afterward, Smarick promises Jallon that he'll try to adjust his work schedule so he can tutor the boy regularly.
In the afternoon, Jallon hunches over her laptop computer. She's organizing a schedule for the lengthy standardized test that the students will take next week. They'll take the same test next spring, and the results, Jallon says, will determine whether her first year as principal has been successful.
All day, Jallon shuttles up and down the hallway between her office and the classrooms, in a new building on the campus of Sojourner-Douglass College in Edgewater. "I need roller skates," she laughs. She also needs a break.
Fourteen days ago, Jallon got back from her honeymoon. Since then, she hasn't spent much time with her new husband, Phil Croskey, or their 9-month-old son, Malachi. She's been leaving school around 7 p.m., and by the time she walks through the door at her house in Hanover, Malachi is usually asleep.
"I'm glad it's Friday," Jallon says. Today the students leave at 4 p.m., an hour earlier than on the other days. Right on schedule, two buses carry the students out of the parking lot. "Bye, Mommy -- I mean, Miss Brown," yells one girl, hanging out a window, waving to Jallon.
As Jallon gets ready to go home, Megan Hall, the social studies and writing teacher, pokes her head through the doorway of the principal's office. "Have a nice weekend," she says to Jallon. "Don't work."
Jallon smiles. Though it is open some Saturdays, KIPP Harbor Academy is closed on this one, and Jallon is planning to spend the day with her family. "But I'm going to be back here on Sunday."
-- Tyler Currie