We interviewed Brittany McGruder, who will be the founding School Director of YES Prep Northline. Currently, she serves as the Director of Academics at YES Prep Northbrook Middle School. Prior to working as a Director of Academics, she was a Dean of Instruction at YES Prep Hoffman and a science teacher at Fondren Middle School. She’s originally from Memphis, Tennessee and has a B.A. from The University of Tennessee at Martin.
What are you doing now to prepare to open YES Prep Northline this fall?
A huge piece right now is hiring. The founding team will be relatively small– about 14 people total. It’s important to create a really strong team that will serve as the foundation for years to come.
Another key component of my work right now is building relationships with the community. There’s a committed group of people who live and work in the Northline and Northside area that is called the Northline Leadership Team. They’re focusing on education, security, parks and recreation, and infrastructure. I’ve been making connections with them and thinking critically about how YES Prep can become an integral part of the community.
You recently attended one of their community events. Can you tell us more about that?
Basically, it was an event where they’d invited families to provide input on and workshop a few different goals. For example, parents wanted more after-school options for kids in the area so they were able to add that onto the list of next steps. There was also a desire for more parks that would be open on the weekends. The organization is listening to the community, and over the next three to five years, they’re going to put these goals in action. After the community event, I’ve received such a joyful and welcoming response from parents. One parent literally embraced me because she was so excited to hear that a YES Prep campus was opening close to her home. Seeing the joy and excitement made me reflect about how YES Prep Northline can help support and become integrated into that community.
What can you tell us about the building?
The renovation is slated to be ready on August 1. It’s a former hospital building that had a lot of different additions, which means that there are courtyards throughout the building. Right now, it’s just a lot of big open spaces and everything is conceptual. I’m sure I’ll have a much better sense of what it will look like once the walls are in.
YES Prep Northline’s mascot will be the Revolutionaries. Can you share why you made that decision?
The idea for becoming the Revolutionaries was born from the notion that there’s this need– now more than ever– for students, staff, and families to be aware of what’s going on in our world and to take steps to improve outcomes for our communities and our own lives. When people hear the word “revolutionary,” they might think of George Washington or other historical figures. But our version of the Revolutionary is someone who takes something they’re really passionate about, finds a way to live that passion, and hopefully adds value to their community.
The Revolutionary will be depicted as a phoenix. Can you explain why you chose the phoenix to embody your mascot?
There are actually two elements of the mascot– the phoenix and the flame. The flame will represent the idea of passion– the thing that burns inside of us and motivates us. The phoenix represents creating positive change, which is driven by our passions. I feel it’s important to stress the idea that the phoenix does not represent the end of something. There are so many amazing things happening in the Northline community, and our mascot represents the notion of building onto that and constantly getting better.
What are you most excited about for next year?
This is an area of town that is incredibly passionate about their neighborhood and what is possible for their children. I’m really excited to join this community and work together to improve outcomes for our students.
Interested in a position at YES Prep Northline? Reach out to Ana.Wolfowicz (at) yesprep (dot) org.