Ronnie Knox named Jetson Principal
May 8, 2009 - Ronnie B. Knox has been named principal of Scenic Alternative High School at Jetson Center for Youth. With 23 years of experience in education, Mr. Knox comes to OJJ from Valley Park Alternative School in East Baton Rouge Parish, which educates 6th -12th grade students expelled from EBR public schools.
Mr. Knox was sent to Valley Park two and a half years ago as Assistant Principal, to assist the principal there in dealing with turmoil at the school. Valley Park is a unique middle school/high school configuration. Mr. Knox supervised instruction and discipline, helping the principal correct discipline problems and training staff in how to deal with troubled students. “It did not take long,” Mr. Knox said, “for the campus to calm down.”
In applying for the Jetson position, Mr. Knox said his heart kept telling him that his place is in an alternative school setting. “These are not the traditional kids,” Mr. Knox noted. “You can’t think in the traditional way with these youth – you have to think creatively.”
"Mr. Knox is passionate about teaching and learning,” said Director of Education Kim Mims. “He is extremely knowledgeable about proven strategies that work well in an alternative school setting and are proven to help at-risk students improve academically and socially. He is very hands-on when working to help improve teaching and learning. I am excited to work with Mr. Knox as we make our schools a place where our youth can experience success and help prepare them to make a smooth transition back into their home communities and schools. Mr. Knox has already hit the ground running, which is evident in the progress the school is making, along with help from our students and teachers."
Mr. Knox also served as Dean of Students at Broadmoor Middle School in Baton Rouge, dealing with discipline issues and after school programs. He helped to increase the school’s 8th grade LEAP test scores in a school with a large population of disadvantaged students, with 75 percent on the free/reduced lunch program.
He has worked with a number of Probation and Parole Officers, state agency social workers and juvenile court judges over the years. “Jetson services several former Valley Park Students,” Mr. Knox said.
“Alternative school students come with a lot of socio-economic issues and emotional baggage,” Mr. Knox said. “They don’t fit the traditional mold, and have a different learning style. They need other incentives to learn. As a teacher of alternative students, you have to be willing to do whatever it takes to help these kids get where they need to be to succeed.”
Mr. Knox gives an example of a student who did not test successfully, but had other skills to demonstrate his mastery of the subject. He was allowed to create a model of a solar system to show what he had learned. “This student learned differently,” Mr. Knox said, “ and we need to respect the fact that there are multi-faceted ways to learn. Students should be evaluated on what they understand.”
Mr. Knox describes himself as a 21st Centeury Renaissance Man. “Don’t limit me and put me in a box,” he said. “Don’t tell me it can’t be done because I will prove you wrong.”
“This is the 21st century,” he went on. “We have got to move with the times and teach our kids like they are our own children.”
“We are going to attack the problem of educating the students at Jetson,” he continued. “We are going to set some goals together and work collaboratively to accomplish them. We need the kids to buy into what we are doing. We need to show them the positive side and the benefits of success.”
“Our job is to help these kids go back into society,” Mr. Knox said. “When their judges see them develop skills and find jobs, that’s a positive.”
Mr. Knox said he is not a 9-5 person. “I’ll stay until the job gets done,” he said. “I love what I do, and I’m passionate about education and good teaching.”
Kids want someone to care about them, and listen to them, Mr. Knox said. “When you talk to children and encourage them, you are talking to their hearts.”
“Teachers set the pace for their students and should model the behavior they want to see in them,” Mr. Knox said. “There are some things that are not negotiable – we set the bar high and reach for the bar. My door is always open to the faculty. If teachers come to me with problems, we can discuss it and offer solutions.”
A native of Baton Rouge and graduate of Scotlandville High School, Mr. Knox holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Southland University in Pasadena, California; Bachelor of Science in Business Management from University of Phoenix in New Orleans, Louisiana; M.Ed in administation and supervision and Plus-30 from Southern University in Baton Rouge, and plans to finish his Ed.D in educational leadership this fall, at Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
Before going into education, Mr. Knox worked in property management and traveled a three state area. He served as chairman of the board and chief financial officer of his church, Interdenominational Faith Assembly, where he oversaw financial operations. He has served as a grant writer and workshop presenter, and grants reviewer for the National Science Foundation Directorate.
Mr. Knox and his fiancee Michelle have one son together and five children between them.
“I am looking foward to putting my experience to work for the youth at Jetson,” Mr. Knox said. “I want to help change the way people see the Jetson youth. They made mistakes, but if I can put tools into their hands, there is no reason kids can’t succeed,” he added. “It does take a village to raise a child, and this community is going to be that village.”
“I am going to do everything I can to help make it happen,” he said. “My word is my bond.”