John Tyler High Tries To Restore Pride

John Tyler High School was a place of controversy during the last school year when TISD decided to reassign the principal, Dr. Aubrey Todd.

Some students, parents, and even community leaders were in an uproar. Parents protested the superintendent's decision to reassign Todd by keeping their children out of school for three days in the spring.

At the center of the controversy was the issue of race. Black City Council Member Derrick Choice and County Commissioner Joann Hampton joined in the fight.

This year, John Tyler has a new principal, Michael McFarland. Students and teachers have embraced him and his efforts to involve students more in discussions about school issues. In an effort to also involve the rest of the local community, a group of teachers planned an event tonight on campus that was open to everyone.

Watching one of your teachers get dunked, playing in the moonwalk, and posing with the Aflac duck was all part of John Tyler's first-ever "Community Reunion" and what the school calls "returning the proud to the pride."

But that wasn't all that went on in "Lion Country."

The open house showcased businesses and organizations that support the school and it gave parents a chance to meet teachers and McFarland.

"I think the turnout tonight is indicative of the support that he already has behind him, and that's just going to grow," Terri Smith, a parent, said.

An opinion echoed by everyone we talked to.

"He's got so much spirit," Cornesia Russell, an 11th grade varsity cheerleader, said. "I feel like he's one of the cheerleaders with me sometimes. I've never seen anything like it. I'm excited. I'm glad to be here. I'm glad to be part of the school."

"It's exciting," Pamela Rodriguez, a teacher, said. "I'm just glad to know that the community has come out and wants to be part of our school."

Even the PTA president, who was openly against Todd's reassignment, is backing McFarland.

"He's shown that he is more than able to do this job, and most of all, he has a willing heart to do the job," John Johnson, who led the community's opposition to TISD's superintendent, Dr. David Simmons, said.

The job of "restoring the roar in 2004," as the school is charging itself to do.

As for the other parents and community members who were against Todd's reassignment, they say it's time to move on and support McFarland in his new role.

Julie Tam, reporting.