When Richard McClure came to A.C. Flora as principal nine years ago, it was largely a different place than it is now.
The campus was under construction. The sports teams were underwhelming. Student involvement was low.
“Everybody just seemed to kind of go their own way,” McClure said. “There wasn’t a sense of school unity or mission or a sense of cooperativeness or school spirit.”
Under his tutelage, that has changed.
District leaders and parents say McClure has provided the kind of leadership that breeds success.
“I think he’s been the right leader for Flora. I think he has vision, I think he has courage, and I certainly think he understands and knows the issues related to accountability,” said Vince Ford, a Richland 1 school board member and 1975 Flora graduate. “The reasons you can have a rise is, a high tide lifts all boats. He has not been focused on any one set of students. He has been focused on all students.”
McClure prides an open-door policy in his office, where he says more positive than negative interactions take place.
“He listens to all stakeholders,” said Beatrice King, a Richland 1 school board member and Flora parent, whose oldest son graduated from the school Thursday. “Particularly, he listens to the students. He understands that the students are the center of our core business, and he respects the views of students.”
Compared to previous leaders, some parents say, McClure has closer, better relationships with students and has more support from the district and parents.
McClure’s leadership has also drawn the kind of classroom leaders that spur students to success.
Some 80 percent of the school’s teachers have advanced degrees. Plus, the school district financially supports their training to teach advanced courses.
But there’s another equally, if not more, important factor in judging teachers’ success, McClure said.
“If you can’t have a relationship with students and they don’t feel like you care about them as individuals, I don’t care how much you know about your content area, you’re not going to be successful at your craft,” McClure said.