Jun 28, 2015

H.D. Woodson Grad Receives Full Ride At Emory University

Christopher Chandler receiving Lorraine H.Whitlock award
Pictured CM Yvette Alexander, salutatorian- David Wynn,
Mayor Muriel Bowser & Ward 7 Dem, Ed Potillo
By Candi Peterson and Malcolm Lewis Barnes

You hear a lot about what’s wrong with DC Public Schools, but very seldom hear about the success stories. On June 25th at the 11th Annual Lorraine H. Whitlock Memorial Scholarship dinner sponsored by the Ward 7 Democrats at the Kellogg Conference Center on the campus of Gallaudet College, Woodson High School senior, Christopher Chandler added that scholarship to his already impressive achievement as the valedictorian of his 2015 class.

With a 4.18 Grade Point Average (GPA), Christopher had already received a Bill and Melinda Gates Millennial Scholarship to study engineering at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia which offers a unique 3/2 program which allows their participants to get grounded in liberal arts by studying three years at Emory followed by  two years at Georgia Tech’s rigorous engineering program.

“The one teacher that stands out the most was Laura Fuchs”, said Christopher. She helped him achieve his 4.18 GPA as his AP instructor who taught AP government and U. S. history. He credits her innovative teaching style with assisting him with the type of study guides and exposing him to the study skills that he feels will help him transition successfully to college. And he also feels that he was not the only one to benefit from Ms. Fuchs tutelage as he credits her with assisting the majority of her smaller 10 to 15 students in her class to achieve marked improvement.

Fuchs reacted as a proud teacher who takes delight in her student’s success. “Christopher is inspiring, gracious and humble.  He has an unending work ethic and always tries his best. At graduation, every time I got close to him I cried”, stated Fuchs. Her tears were tears of joy. She recalled how hard Christopher worked even during his 7:30 am AP Government class. Arrangements were made so Fuchs students could arrive at school earlier than the standard 8:45 am arrival time to fit in another class, known as the zero period since there wasn't room in their senior schedule to take this class.

Fuchs arrived at HD Woodson in 2007 as a DC Teaching fellow and completed her Masters degree at American University, while teaching. She believes in experiencing 'civil action' with her students. Also serving as Washington Teachers' Union, Committee on Political Education (COPE) Chairperson, Fuchs can often be found attending DC City Council hearings and education town hall meetings in the evenings with her students in towe.

Chandler was also inspired by a professional role model who successfully transitioned from DC Public Schools to a career in engineering. He met electrical engineer, Joanne Wilson two years ago and was impressed with her career success as a telecommunications professional who worked her way from Southern University to a position on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

He also received great assistance from his college mentor, Kevin Mungin from the College Success Foundation of DC that is also funded by the Gates Foundation that helps public school students from middle school to map out their career fields by arranging college field trips and career shadowing opportunities.

His college mentor also exposed him to the Higher Education and; Readiness Program or HERO program, which works closely with Woodson students from middle school through graduation. Chris started in 7th grade doing a “Design Your Dream Home” project because he was originally interested in architecture. Then he migrated to engineering when he got to high school when he got exposed to the advances in cellphone technology.

And finally he credits his parents were there the whole time. “Everything starts at home” said Chris. “And our lifestyle at home set the tone for how I performed in school”. He praised his parents, Renee Carthens and stepfather, Otis Leach for providing the consistent family support that kept him focused though out his time in high school at Woodson.

And to add icing to his graduation cake, Christopher added the Lorraine H. Whitlock Memorial Scholarship to the full ride that the Bill and Melinda Gates Millennial Scholarship provided to study engineering, which was named after the lifelong education and community activist from the Deanwood community of Ward 7. Chandler’s story is one of inspiration where as an African American student he defied the odds in an urban high school where only 60% of his peers graduate in four years.

Count Christopher Chandler as a true success story, but credit the love and support he received from his parents, help he received from his AP instructor Laura Fuchs; his college mentor Kevin Mungin, and his professional role model, Joanne Wilson for inspiring him from middle school through graduation to valedictorian with a college career goal.

© Candi Peterson 2015

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