Jonas Crenshaw Jr. moved from Mississippi to Philadelphia to assume the responsibilities as principal of Tilden Middle School. With one year under his belt, the consensus is clear that he has already achieved high honors.
“He’s supposed to be here. He’s the person, I believe, [who] is ordained to be here,” said Nancy Golden, assistant principal. “This is his season to be here and to impact the lives of these children.”
Crenshaw, now in his ninth year in administration, brought with him to Tilden a high level of enthusiasm that has been infectious. This past summer, he rallied the faculty and some students to help edify the school.
“One of the things I noticed last year was that there was not a lot of school spirit here when I got here. So, definitely, we’ve been working to make the school a place students are proud of physically and aesthetically,” he said.
Crenshaw’s positive outlook and desire to be proactive has created a cause and effect that is hard not to notice or be in awe of.
“He’s a wonderful, wonderful person. He’s really committed to our children. He loves our kids,” said teacher Jodan Floyd. “He loves the school and the community. He’s trying to bring the community into the school and the school into the community with wonderful innovative things.”
The creation of the C.A.R.E. bucks has really motivated the students to be on their best behavior.
“That’s an incentive for students to do the right thing, follow the rules, be engaged in the educational process, take responsibility for their learning and that kind of thing, be respectful and when we notice that the students follow the rules, they’re able to receive these bucks and at the end of the week, they can redeem them for some wonderful prizes that we have,” Golden said.
Above all else, the 400 students that attend Tilden know they have a principal who walks the hallway and cares. It is a support that is supplemented by the staff.
“Our school motto is Team Tilden, one community achieving global success, and the idea is that we have to work together as a team. And so, I work very hard to build a team with the faculty, the parents, finding ways to show the faculty that they are valued and so what we are now is a family, and I’m excited because it’s very rare that you go to a school and teachers enjoy each other,” he said.
“We enjoy hanging outside of school together. We work together on projects. We roll up our sleevesand get things done around here. And so, I just think that’s amazing that we have a tram that’s so committed to our students.”
Russ Maxemaw, dean of students, echoed the sentiment. He said everyone was moving in the same direction.
“We’re like one big huge family. Everybody has each other’s back. So, if I need something, I can go to anybody and they will help me out. So, I’ll do the same for them,” Maxemaw said.
“I always say that I have four kids at home. I have 400 and something here. So, I technically have over 450 kids.”
Oct. 6 will be Tilden’s back-to-school night, but parents have already weighed in on the difference Crenshaw has made.
“He honestly cares,” Pamela Mack Edwards said.
“He’s walking the halls. He’s interacting. He’s doing things more for the kids.”
Deborah Brewer added.
“The school didn’t look so clean and it was loud and rowdy when I had to come,” Brewer said.
“But it’s quiet when you come in now. You don’t hear students hollering in the room. You don’t see them hanging in the hallways. I think the school has really improved.”
Crenshaw was happy to give of himself, including spending long hours at the office, if his students ultimately benefit.
“What I want my students to understand is that whenever they go out representing the school, they’re going to be first-class students and I want to give them all the experiences that they would get in any other school,” Crenshaw said.
“I want Tilden to be the premiere middle school in the school district, and so it’s that expectation that we offer to the students in creating school spirit.”