‘We were terrible. Now we are great leaders.’

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Triumphant students say the school’s “scholar culture” has had a big impact on their educational goals and their interactions with each other and with teachers. Here, 8th-graders talk about that impact.

Q. What’s it like to learn in classrooms that have 6th-, 7th- and 8th-graders mixed together?

Theodore Jackson: Three-year scholars (8th-graders) are able to help new kids.

Jeremiah Murray: They have to set examples of quietness, learning, experience, and so forth.

Theodore: Every age range shows you something.

Deonte Howard: We don’t always have to teach the 6th-graders. Sometimes they teach us.

Q. Are teachers here different from the teachers you had in other schools?

Jeremiah: They help you whenever you need help. If you don’t understand, they’ll explain it to you.

Theodore: TCS teachers have the time to work with you. They make sure you understand. They’re not worried about getting attendance or about [other] stuff. It’s easier [to learn] because you understand what you’re supposed to do, and it’s fun.

Q. How is your behavior here different from what it was in other schools?

Tiara Pryor: [The staff] taught us how to respect people. [In her previous school], they didn’t tell us nothing. We were terrible. Now we are great leaders.

Q. Does this school prepare you for high school?

Tiara: I can’t wait till I go to high school.

Jeremiah: TCS made me like school.

Kendall Ross: Other schools teach you how to go to college, but this school teaches you how to go to college and stay in college.

Theodore: In big division [on Fridays], we learn about college. We listen to long lectures and we’ve got to take notes like college people.

Q. What do you like best about Triumphant?

Amber Goodman: We all learn on a one-on-one basis. (She also likes the field trips to study other Chicago neighborhoods, like Pilsen and Bronzeville.)

Theodore: When we sing the songs [in morning assembly], it’s time for me to change to my scholarly ways. It wakes me up, brightens my day. I’m really, really focused.