Mr. Alexander M. Massey, Interim Principal of the Booker Washington Institute (BWI), has outlined what he described as the “existing state of affairs and accomplishments report” of the institute in recent years.
In his remarks during a program marking the institute’s 86th Founders Day anniversary on Saturday, June 28, Mr. Massey said BWI’s current enrollment stands at 1139, down from a population of 1361 last school year in spite of “our best efforts to narrow this gap.”
“We are of the opinion that the total enrolment is still a little too large because it exceeds our targeted student to teacher ratio of 35/40 to one and therefore impacts our ability to provide a premium learning environment for each of our students,” he asserted.
The equal percentages of day and boarding students occurring last school year has changed to 60 percent boarding and 40 percent day students this academic year.
The reason for this change, in part, can be attributed to the policy of returning BWI to the tradition of a boarding school where it was mandatory starting last school year for each freshman student to live on campus, Massey explained.
Upgrades to the dormitories along with much needed improvements in the quality of the food served in the dining hall may have served to promote the policy to return BWI to an exclusively boarding institution, said Massey.
In academic performance, BWI experienced a modest increase in the number of students making the honor roll last school year over the previous year. “We still had about 26 percent of our total enrollment failing one or more subjects,” reported Massey.
The slight increase in the number of students making the honor roll last year, Massey said, was perhaps due to his administration establishing remedial classes for the students run by instructors three evenings a week.
In addition to the evening classes, BWI has also introduced this year a four days a week “peer-on-peer” tutoring program utilizing a portion of the institute’s two hour lunch period in an attempt to provide additional remedial help and support for the students.
The high failing rate continues to be an issue of outmost concern for his administration, Massey emphasized.
“We have come to the realization that if we are going to reverse this trend and return BWI to the tradition of a Center of Excellence we are going to accomplish it in several significant ways.”
He said BWI must adopt more rigorous standards and require higher expectations from its students, disclosing that his administration has begun to put in place some of the necessary measures in an effort to help elevate standards at BWI.
Those measures include the recruitment and attraction of a better quality of students from across the country and the hiring of better qualified academic and trade instructors, Massey said.