Radnor Middle School is no different than any other school in the area seeking to provide the best for its students.
At the helm of the school’s leadership is its principal, Anthony Stevenson, who has led the school to gain national recognition.
“I started off with Project 2000, a program to mentor boys in kindergarten at Robert Coleman Elementary School in Baltimore, Maryland,” said Stevenson, who currently resides in Ardmore.
Stevenson has been at Radnor Middle for the past nine years. “The program helped me learn that I wanted to get into education administration. I found my passion. I felt that it was a great avenue to help people.”
A native of South Carolina, Stevenson earned his undergraduate degree in Latin American History and Politics from South Carolina State University.
“South Carolina State had a lot of great education programs and I had a lot of teachers who supported me,” he said. “If it wasn’t for South Carolina State I wouldn’t have gone to college.”
Although he valued education, Stevenson “grew up where I took remedial math and science.”
A far cry from what he would later achieve, Stevenson vows that he has “no regrets” as it relates to attending a Historically Black College and University (HBCU).
“My family comes from education,” he said. “My parents are educators.”
Among many relatives in education, Stevenson’s uncle, Roosevelt Shaw, is a chemistry professor at Morgan State University, an HBCU in Baltimore.
Stevenson also holds master’s degrees in geography and regional planning from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and a master’s degree in Divinity from Lutheran Theological Seminary of Philadelphia. He is aiming to complete his dissertation, by year’s end, to earn a degree in educational leadership from the University of Pennsylvania.
Since becoming Radnor Middle School’s principal in 2007, Stevenson has made a significant impact at the school. This year it was named a 2012 Green Ribbon School. The United States Department of Education noted Radnor Middle School as being one of 78 schools nationwide to receive the inaugural award. The honor recognized Radnor Middle School as one of America’s most successful schools in performance related to environmental impact, health and education.
“Anthony knows the families by name and has a great relationship in the community,” said 23-year teaching veteran Mary Ellen Costello. The Radnor math teacher praised Stevenson for “putting the kids into a position for success” with his “gift of being able to make you feel comfortable.”
Out of the 825 students attending Radnor Middle School, about 25 percent are from diverse backgrounds of color. To serve an underrepresented population in the Radnor area, Stevenson is active with the Highland Avenue Project, an after school program for students from families of the township’s lower economic status.
“He probably won’t tell you about this, but he spends his own time with this program,” said Costello. The program is not affiliated with Radnor Middle School, yet it serves some of the school’s students.
“Aside from education, I grew up in a family that is in the ministry,” Stevenson said. “I feel that this [being an education administrator] is a ministry. The things that I do, I put a lot of energy into my faith to get me where I am.”
A former minister at Philadelphia’s historic Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church, Stevenson has been drawn to the values and tradition of the Quakers, who have a rooted history in abolishing slavery.
“There’s something to be said about the power of silence,” he said. “I haven’t walked away from my background, I’ve just embraced more.”
Embracing success for his students and empowering their families has been Stevenson’s calling.
“We think he’s a fantastic principal,” said Pilar Yeakel of Wayne.
Yeakel’s daughter, Mae, is preparing to enter the 8th grade and agrees with her mom.
“He’s a favorite on my list,” she said.
Stevenson noted the public needs to figure out how to get more people of color in the education process. In the academic environment where he applies his professional skills, Stevenson believes he is a “myth buster.”
Where many of his pupil’s introductions to minority males are often negative, Stevenson sees himself as a “role model not only for Black folks,” but for all “in a global society where kids will have to deal with a diverse population.”
There’s no doubt that Stevenson has made a difference during his time at Radnor Middle School. Pilar Yeakel makes that very clear.
“He’s a superstar,” she said.