Some 150 freshmen and sophomores from nearby Shaw Middle School, which was in the process of growing into a high school, showed up on his doorstep. When their principal, Brian Betts, died earlier that spring, it killed the school’s expansion efforts, leaving those students to find a new high school.
“I thought, my God, I can’t turn (these) kids down,” said Pinder, who was speaking at YEP-DC’s inaugural policy-to-practice conference in March. But by doing so, Pinder welcomed a much larger challenge: Most of these kids were in poverty and below basic in math and reading. “I realized that if we were going to move (academics) substantially … we were going to have to actually figure out how to do education differently,” he said.