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Maryland’s Principal Of The Year Gets Incredible Surprise For Her Life-Changing Work.

woman wearing a sparkly mask and hugging a high school student who is also wearing a mask

Dr. Taiisha Swinton-Buck of Baltimore’s Digital Harbor High School puts the “pal” in principal.

It’s only been three years since she’s taken on the role, but the positive impact she’s made is immeasurable. Now, she’s getting all the recognition she deserves!

Digital Harbor High School is classified as a comprehensive supportive and improvement school. With Taiisha’s help, they’ve seen record-setting improvements in attendance, grade averages, and graduation rates. So much so, in fact, that Taiisha co-led a virtual talk for the MSDE Conference.

“I recognize that it’s on me to research what this generation needs as learners as well as just the whole child and their whole experience,” Taiisha said.

Grades are important, but she looks beyond what happens inside the classroom. This has led to the school getting a free barbershop for their students as well as a free resource room with personal care and household items. These services are available to any student, and the resource room is set up so they can access what they need discretely.

“If students’ needs are not met in other places, that shows up in the classroom,” Taiisha said, “and so I want to be able to bridge those gaps for students in any way that we need for them and their families so that they can show up as their best selves.”

For all of these reasons and more, Taiisha was named Maryland’s Principal of the Year for 2021. But her impact can’t be seen by looking at numbers alone – it’s the personal relationships she’s developed that best reflect what she means to her students and to the school as a whole!

No matter what’s going on, Taiisha makes sure to say hello to her students and keeps up with what is going on in their lives. She’s always on the lookout for ways they can better connect, including TikTok.

“I know that people laugh about the TikToks, but kids get into that, and if I can draw you in in that way then by any means necessary I’m going to,” the educator said.

Taiisha strives to bond with her students, and hearing the way they talk about her proves that she must be doing something right.

One student, Dajuan Honeyblue, was shocked by how much her help has improved his grades. Now, he’s planning on having a career in real estate. He even said that once he’s made it, he’s going to let everyone know how much Taiisha has supported and encouraged him.

“Principal Swinton Buck is the best principal in the world,” he added. “If you don’t like her, I don’t know what’s wrong with you!”

“The thing that meant so much to me about what he said was that he saw his success, because when kids can see their success that’s the turning point for them,” Taiisha said.

In addition to being named principal of the year, Taiisha’s dedication to her school helped them catch the attention of the “Today” show. As part of their “Once in a Lifetime” series, Al Roker stopped by with a huge surprise: Every single student was given their own free Dell laptop and the school received an additional 1,400 laptops.

“It means everything to us,” Taiisha said. “At Digital Harbor High School, we’re focused on technology. Computers kept us connected during the COVID closures, and so we’re so happy that we can continue on trend. … We’re going to stay focused!”

What a powerful way to make a difference in so many children’s lives! Share this story to celebrate the work Taiisha is doing in her school and beyond.

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