Jerome Woods took over Mattie T. Blount High School 12 years ago.
At the time, Blount was known more for its success in the athletic arena than in its classrooms.
Woods changed the culture when he walked in the door.
“College and career readiness is what we push from 9th grade all the way to 12th grade,” Jerome Woods said.
How did he do it? A can-do attitude, holding his students accountable, and getting the right staff in place.
“We have made so many phenomenal changes. Two or three of the best ways is that we’ve grown the graduation rate. It was in the 60’s when I got here. We’re 91 plus. Our college and career readiness rate, we expect to be 95% or better this year. so we’re really in the business of graduating kids college-and-career ready,” Woods added.
Daisy Ferrell is just one of Blount’s success stories.
She’s the new queen of the Mobile Azalea Trail Maids and the first queen from Blount High to achieve that distinction.
“Now girls who look like me, who are from the same place as me, and go to the same school as me are able to see somebody be in that position, and representation is everything," Daisy Ferrell shared.
You also have students like Amber Haston, who helped her mom recover from a fire thanks to the skills she learned in the Allied Health Program offered at the school.
“She had to cover up her burns, so I actually learned wrapping from here. And I actually got to wrap her arm and actually know what I was doing so she wouldn’t have to go back and forth to the doctor just to get the arm or something wrapped,” Amber Haston said.
Amber and Daisy display a confidence that is a result of the culture change put in place by Woods.
“Outside of what the socio-economic status is and what people think outside of the community, you know once they’re here we instill a lot of pride in them. Once you wear purple, and white and once you’re a leopard, you’re always a leopard,” Woods said.