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Principal of Ann Richards School Looks Back on Decade of Growth

Principal Jeanne Goka has three different fruit cups on her desk. For years, the Ann Richards School has boasted the most fruit consumed in the district, and if the lunchtime rituals of the school’s principal are consistent, it’s safe to say her adherence to the school’s healthy and well-balanced diet isn’t just talk. Words lead to action, as Goka frequently reminds her students.

2017 marked 10 years of fruit cups for the school, its principal and a handful of hardworking staff. But what does 10 years really measure for Principal Goka?
“It's the snap of a finger, honestly,” she said.

Goka has been involved with the creation of the school since its inception, diving into research and studies on same-sex education, and even working alongside Governor Ann Richards herself.

“We built the school around her vision, her ideas and her strong opinions," Goka said. "For example, the color blue, the star... those were all hers.”

But the school didn’t appear overnight or without challenges.

“When we started the school, there were a lot of naysayers, and we had to prove them wrong,” Goka said. “And we did. We’re nationally ranked, and we’re well-respected, and for the last several years, schools and educators from all over the nation are coming in here. They’re all seeing this little-bitty school, and what we’re doing that’s so innovative.”

“When we started the school, we had this idea of collaborative learning. All of my research, everything shows women are more collaborative, they work together, they are not so ego-centric so that they can’t solve problems,” she explained. “And, you know what? I know we’re gonna have a Nobel Prize Winner. Our girls are going to rise to that. We’re going to have to have a pro-bono patent lawyer because we’re going to build something new and needed in the world. All of these things I think are going to culminate in a very different kind of school, you know? In ten years, thank goodness schools will look different. And be taught differently.”

Looking to the future, Goka sees a “modern” image for the school, both physically and within the students themselves.

“You can only imagine that once we knock down walls and clear out the way, imagine not having those constraints and being able to branch out,” she said. “And I really feel that the problems that need to be solved are going to be solved by women. They’re going to solve really serious problems, like the environment. And that gives me a great hope as I age out of this job, that that’s going to happen. It gives me so much hope and confidence in the future of this world and in humanity.”

 
Editor's note: This article was republished with permission from the author, Georgia Moore, and edited for length. Photo credit: Ezra Morales. You can read the full article here: http://arspolarispress.com/123862/features/thoughts-lead-to-words-looking-back-on-ten-years-with-ms-goka/