How South L.A.’s Santee Education Complex’s Graduation Rate Jumped Nearly 60 Percent in 11 Years

Two Assistant Principals Learned Their High School Didn’t Need a Special Status to Be Academically Rigorous and Locally Respected

Back in 2005, when South Los Angeles’ Santee Education Complex opened, we were among the very first teachers hired. At the time, Santee was the first new high school constructed by L.A. Unified in 35 years.

Today, we’re still here—we’re assistant principals (and a little sick of each other, we joke)—in a very different Santee and a very different South L.A. Over the past 11 years, we’ve learned a lot about how to build and improve a school, and a community.

The biggest lesson is that a school doesn’t have to …