CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The motto at Movement School—a public charter--is preparing a new generation of leaders, and the man at the center of leading this goal for these middle schoolers is Principal Kenneth Gorham.
Gorham took over Movement Middle as principal for the 2022-2023 school year. As the youngest principal in Movement’s history, he broke the mold of what many think a principal should look like.
"I'm 24 years old. I actually turned 25 next week," Gorham told WCNC Charlotte. "I was in my head absolutely about my age, I was in my head absolutely about my years of experience, for sure."
According to the U.S. Department of Education, the average age of public school principals is 48, but despite Gorham's age, parents at the Movement School say they love him and the attention he gives each individual student.
"He always gives every student a walk-through Movement Middle School's doors, he gives him a hug every morning. If not a hug, a high five," Moya Montgomery, a parent at Movement School, said
Students at Movement School say they also love Principal Gorham and that he's caring and supportive of their goals.
PHOTOS: Principal Gorham and students at Movement School
Gorham not only exceeds the expectations of his students and parents but also Movement School's administration team. Superintendent Jenika Mullen said Principal Gorham's impressive test scores contributed to his appointment.
"When we think about hiring, it is really about like your leadership competencies," Mullen explained. "Are you someone that people will want to follow and be inspired by? The answer is yes [for] Mr. Gorham."
During the 2017-2018 school year, about 78% of public school principals were White, 11% were Black, and 9% were Hispanic, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics.
Mullen said she hopes Gorham's story will help inspire a change in the mindset of what a public school principal looks like.
"What I hope people see is not only inspired by Mr. Gorham's story but also have this mindset shift, and how were you holding on to almost like these expectations of what you think someone should look like and when you think someone should be and what's the right fit? Because honestly, a lot of it comes with a bias," she said.
Gorham said he hopes his story will empower students to own the Movement School teachings, which is to own the room and lead by example.
"As a Black male educator, as a Black male leader, my job is truly to empower our children to show them like beyond what the world may believe or perceive. You can absolutely change that narrative every single day," he said.
And it starts by seeing themselves, and their future, in Principal Gorham.
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