You might’ve seen her roaming the hallways, or maybe sitting at a table on her computer at lunch. Find a tall, brown, curly-haired woman roaming around and you are sure to have crossed Arnetta Young, assistant principal at Oakland Mills High School (OMHS). However, before she was here at OMHS as an administrator, she was a mother, a journalist, and much more.
Since childhood, Ms. Young has had a passion for literature and education. Before working with students here at OMHS, she worked at HCPSS Central Office in leadership development. She designed courses for staff members in the county before moving here to OMHS. She also worked with fourth graders at another school, but later realized that her passion was with older kids. Therefore, she decided to work with grades nine through twelve at OMHS. Prior to being an administrator and assistant principal, she started teaching in Baltimore City Schools from 2001 to 2006. Afterwards, she became a resident principal for one year, followed by four more years as a principle. “I have always loved teaching and learning. As a kid, it was my favorite game to play with my sisters. As young as five, it was my favorite game to play. I remember going to middle school that summer to help my teacher,” said Ms. Young.
As much as Ms. Young enjoys her job, there are things she would change if it were within her scope of control. How would she change the school system she works in? “I think that we have a long way to go, for equity. I think we need to customize education. I think we will be able to reach 21st century learning when we focus on flexibility and empowering kids to make more choice, include their voices, the physical design of school and the types of courses offered.” Ms. Young explained that “I would change how we do discipline. I would change how we deal with problems. I would make it more restorative. I would make schools more restorative. Make it okay to make and resolve mistakes. Not just a suspension. How would we bring you back into the school?” She concluded.
However, this isn’t the only opinion she has on school. In fact, her least favorite subject when she was in school was mathematics. “It was painful! I didn’t understand the graphs, or the graphing. Although I hated it, it trained my brain to think strategically, and logically. I don’t use calculus and geometry in my everyday life, but I use what came with it.” The administrator insisted that although Algebra might seem useless in everyday activities, it is something we need and use in life, as with many other courses. It is clear that Ms. Young’s opinion on education isn’t at all what we expected from someone who indulges in the profession. Her favorite thing about her work is “…connecting with people. My favorite thing is the trust that my students have in me, and the teachers. When they have a problem, they know it will be addressed,” Ms. Young said.
But there is more to Ms. Young than what meets the eye. Outside of OMHS, what could our administrator be up to? What is she thinking about? What interests her outside of school? “My daughters take up a lot of my time. I tend to focus a lot on their lives. Motherhood is one of my favorite parts of being an adult, I love it. Being a good mother, taking care of my own self, but also having a social outlet with my friends. I work really hard to be a balanced person in my private life, so when I’m here at work, I can be a happier, more whole person, “Ms. Young responded. “My greatest weakness, is again, trying to find balance. Sometimes, this role as assistant principal can take me out of balance. My phone bleeps all night when something crazy happens. My challenge is being fully present with my daughters, then doing school stuff afterwards. Taking care of myself, my kids, then my school. Juggling that is really hard.” Her ability to balance her work and private life isn’t the only challenge presented here at OMHS––Ms. Young believes students are also facing challenges. “Maintaining focus in a world that’s filled with distractions. But focus on, not just academics, but your voice, your values, what you believe in, your dreams. Social media’s a blessing, but also a curse. And you all are so unfortunate that a heavy mistake made as children can mess up your lives,” she concluded.
At some point, we’ve all had figures who’ve inspired us. What was Ms. Young’s? “So, I think, my favorite hero would be my father. My dad was a sharecropper and had a fourth grade education. He gave me life––in terms of reading. Taught me to read and write before kindergarden. But [he] also taught me to love reading and writing. After that, I dug into books and explored the world of reading. He passed when I was ten, but he is my forever hero,” answered Ms. Young.
Now when you come across our assistant principal in the hallways, you’ll know a little more about her than you did before. Perhaps when you see her, you can stop and tell her a little bit about yourself as well.