Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mandarin Principal in a Whole New World

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mandarin Principal in a Whole New World

Article excerpt

Veteran principal Milton Threadcraft has spent most of his

career in Northside schools struggling with poverty, crime, low

test scores and a lack of parental involvement, according to

school district records.

For the first time in his career, the principal has taken the

helm of a school, Mandarin High, in one of Jacksonville's

wealthier neighborhoods.

Some parents and faculty members are thrilled with the

change.

"I worked under him years ago. He's fabulous," said teacher

Penny Marks.

"I like him. He's got a lot of good ideas. He's very friendly,

willing to talk, he's very open, he's a people person," said

parent Susan Ryan.

Threadcraft, 52, who was reassigned from Raines High School,

said he's in a whole new world being at a school where about 5

percent of students are on free or reduced lunch. It's also a

school where students have outscored all county high schools on

advanced placement tests for three years and parental

involvement is almost too much.

For the first time in his career, Threadcraft said he can

implement his ideas, instead of spending all his time putting

out fires, chastising students and dealing with chaos, said the

Southside resident.

"This school can practically run itself," he said.

He foresees new and different challenges. He also has big

plans.

"Change is good. It allows for revitalization. He'll be out and

about at that school. It will be fun to watch the transition,"

said Nancy Snyder, regional administrator for Mandarin and

Southside schools.

Threadcraft, a strict disciplinarian, said students' shirts

must be tucked, gum chewing will be prohibited and smoking won't

be tolerated.

He said there's a perception that Mandarin High students are

above the laws, but no more.

He formerly struggled with a lack of parental support. Now he's

facing parents who support their children even when they are

wrong, he said.

Former Mandarin High Principal Dalton Epting had complained of

parents arguing over punishments doled out to students and going

over his head often.

"We call those instances 'mamacalls,'" Threadcraft said. …

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