New principal shows up for scholars dedicated to make a change

By Deonte Belle and Taneisha Simmons, Staff Writers

Roosevelt students have gone through school not knowing who their principal was. But in November principal Courtney Wilkerson arrived, and students throughout the halls during transition say Wilkerson has been more visible than any other principal for the past year. “You all are going to see me,” Wilkerson said in a March 1 interview. “You’re going to know me.” 

Students say Wilkerson (who uses they/them pronouns) has been seen more than any other principal for the past year. “I run into the principal almost every day and this is my first year here at Roosevelt,” sophomore Adam Hunter said.  

Nearly every day, Principal Wilkerson is actively around the school making sure scholars are attending all their classes on time, “giving a good first impression to the students,” Hunter said. 

Our principal said they want to focus on building upon three main goals: race and equity, academic rigor, and building a closely connected community. 

“We need resolve in really doing some deep dive into like race and equity and really have an honest conversation,” Wilkerson said. Race and equity, number one, is creating a place where all of our students get to get in all of the classes and have access to rigor and engagement, so that they want to be here.”  

Born and raised in Southeast Washington, D.C., Wilkerson knows the challenges. “The streets don’t have anything for you,” they said. “I’m trying to create a place where you want to be here, you want to learn, are excited, and you see purpose in it. Because the streets are our competitor.” 

Wilkerson also wants students to feel like there is a close relation with everyone in the building. “Really creating a community, right, where all of our teachers, and all of our students see each other as family,” Wilkerson said. 

Wilkerson started out their career as a math and science teacher at an alternative high school in Virgina. 

From there they worked their way up as a Resident Principal at elementary and middle schools across the District.” When I came to Rose, and the opportunity presented itself, I was like, you know what, let me give it a try. And I can honestly say it’s the best decision that I’ve made,” Wilkerson said. “When this presented itself, I was like, I’m good at home, you know, but like now I’m home now. I have a new home.” 

They want you to feel at home too, and like you belong here. “A good school for me is that every student, no matter who you are, you might not want to be here at first, but when you get here, you find your people. You will find the classes. You find things that make you thrive, and you’re excited to be here,” Wilkerson said. 

Wilkerson essentially believes that students should strive to be their best self. “I believe every single student has a genius inside of them,” Wilkerson said. “I believe that it’s our job to tap into that genius and help you figure it out.”