An Interview with Mr. Mitch Young at Forsyth Central High School
The following post is from Christina LaPlaca, a high school student and part of the Honors Mentorship Program at Forsyth Central. Recently she sat down with Mr. Young to interview him about the positive changes he is making at Forsyth Central High School.
When Mitch Young came to Forsyth Central High School, he ambitiously sought to completely change the county’s perception of the school. Through hard work, dedication & many pep rallies, Mr. Young has written his way into the hearts of the students, faculty, and parents associated with the high school.
It was a pleasure interviewing Mr. Young, and I have featured below some questions that he insightfully answered.
What inspired you to step into the roles of leadership and administration?
Boy, that’s a great question! Honestly, what inspired me is when I went to work for a couple of different leaders who really made a difference. You kind of go along through your teaching career thinking that principals are there to handle discipline, and you don’t really think much about it. I, myself, worked for a couple who were not very positive people to work for, just thinking that it was the norm. Then I went to work for a couple of folks who embodied the attitude of the entire school, helping me to believe that you really can make a difference. When I saw that it was possible, and I knew that I loved both teaching, teachers, and of course the students, I knew that helping to create a culture that was supportive of these people and ideals would be the best, most positive thing I could do.
It’s very obvious how much you love this school and its environment. What’s your favorite part about being involved with this particular campus, its faculty, and its students?
Without question, the number one thing that makes me excited to go to work every day is that we really do have a sense of community. Not every high school has that, and with this county growing so rapidly, those schools have had to create a sort of community within the walls. Here, we really are a part of the heart of Cumming, and the culture at school has carried that on. I know that it’s kind of an old-school thing, but we have teachers that hang out together and a student body that is less “cliquish”. Intangibles like this have come about due to the fact that this was the first, original school. I came from a small town, where the whole town was tied around the school. For me, Forsyth Central is a throw-back to that.
What plans do you have to make Forsyth Central High School the best school in the county?
Gosh, the biggest thing, I think, that the climate of the school helps us to keep an ear out for what the students’ and teachers’ needs and wants are, and to aid us in making them happen. It helps make this school a place where everyone wants to be. We want teachers who want to teach here, students who want to go here, and parents who want to send their kids here. That really drives our climate. In regards to our culture, we are really working hard with our feeder schools, like Cumming Elementary and Otwell Middle School, to try and raise the expectations within our school, and even beyond graduation. We urge them to think about how we should be helping students to receive acceptance from flagships like UGA and Georgia Tech, whether they plan to attend or not. I’m not saying that everyone has to go there, but when the acceptance rates go up, then we can tell that our classroom practices are more rigorous. We can tell that teachers are really pushing our students more, and that more students are choosing to take the Advanced Placement route (which is the best preparation for college). Throughout all of this, though, we want also to see graduation rates improve, because without a high school diploma, it’s like a death sentence in this day and age. So, kind of in a nutshell, everything we are striving for is aimed towards those goals.
What are some exciting changes that you and your team have already made in your time here at FCHS?
One thing, for certain, is that we’ve been very loud about our pride at this school. I think that there has always been a sense of pride here at Central, but it’s been a very old-school type of quiet. We’ve done a great job of cheerleading how great our school is. What Mrs. Dugan, one of the teachers here, has done on social media, for instance, has helped enhance the image of the school. We’ve also gotten our chorus out there in the community; our sports teams even have a community service project that gets them out to serve others. I believe that these instances now serve a more intentional, positive purpose in the lives of our students, faculty, and our school. This new building on campus really captures what we were trying to go for, which is a student-centered facility that brings everyone together. We want to remember that we open the doors every day for students, so our policies should line up with our goal with making this the place where kids want to be and where parents want to send their kids.
How do you think the students will benefit/ have benefitted from these changes?
Forsyth Central should be the one place where students can go where they know that they can feel safe, can be given equal opportunities with their teachers and administrators, and can be a place where you can safely experiment with who you are. I think we’ve done a good job of that. I mean, you still have to go to class, you still have to pass certain tests and all, but we wanted to shift everything off of all of that stress and pressure, and place it on the entire experience of school. That’s why every year we keep some traditions while also trying some new things. Our student population changes. The new building, itself, exemplifies the changes within the student body; we have plug-ins around every corner, because we know that today’s student always needs to recharge their devices. They have high top tables to eat at, and a brand new media center to study in.
Any words of advice for the parents of upcoming freshmen and anyone else who is visiting the site?
Parents and students really need to come see the school, because if you aren’t from this area, or haven’t been involved in a while, you won’t know of the extreme difference in perception that Central has gathered. It is so much better than what people think it’s going to be when they get here. If they really want to know what’s going on at this school, they need to talk with students who go here and parents who have had their children go here. That will help them get a much better insight as to what this school is about.
What advice do you have for upcoming high school students?
The number one thing that I would tell any rising freshman, is that they have got to get plugged in. When you get to high school, no matter where that is, the kids that continuously get into trouble and have issues in the classroom are those that aren’t involved with anything. Join a club, try out for a team, join band, get involved in drama; there is something for everybody. Get plugged in, and your high school experience will be so much better.
With all of the stresses and anxieties we high schoolers experience, it really does comfort us to know that our faculty and administration are on our side and want to help us succeed. Mr. Young has gone above and beyond any expectations for a standard principal, and has fought for ways in which our educational environment can be a more comfortable, enjoyable place. Because of him, there is no doubt that Forsyth Central High School is rising to greatness.
Christina LaPlaca is part of the Honors Mentorship Program at Forsyth Central High School. She recently shared some fact about herself. You can read that article here.
To learn more about Christina and our other contributing writers, click here.