Staff Focus: Kenny Porritt, Reach Academy Program Co-Lead and Special Educator, Long Reach High School
September 23rd, 2019
Growing up in a household with two educators as parents, Kenny Porritt discovered his love for teaching early on in life. Porritt shared both his parents’ interests, with his dad working in athletics and his mom helping students with special needs. After exploring both physical and special education, he determined: “I could make more of an impact with kids with special needs. No matter what I’m doing, it’s very important for me to get to know the kids and help them in any capacity I can.”
Currently, Porritt serves as the special educator and co-lead of Long Reach High School’s 9th grade Reach Academy, a restorative justice program designed to support and accelerate student achievement through the first year of high school. Porritt explained, “My special education background comes into play because I’m working with all 95 students in the academy, figuring out the best support to bridge the gap from middle to high school, challenging them in the classroom, and working through inequities that could limit them from taking upper level courses.”
Porritt’s focus on relationship building is key as he’s helped develop Reach Academy as Long Reach’s first fully restorative justice instructional program. Every Friday, the academy students spend time teambuilding, participating in peace circles, or listening to outside speakers on civil rights issues, health department workshops and more. “My primary role in the academy is to get our students to feel safe, feel they belong and feel a belonging to the school,” Porritt explained.
“Kenny has an amazing ability to connect with people,” said Joshua Wasilewski, Long Reach principal. Wasilewski points to the success of the academy, saying “We’re in the second year of the academy, which Kenny helped develop from its infancy, and we’ve seen a significant increase in the promotion rate of students moving on to 10th grade.” Additionally, all academy students–none of whom had ever taken an honors course previously–completed their accelerated course last year.
Long Reach student Shakira Mayfield participated in the academy last year, and described Porritt as someone who “really cares for me as a student. It makes me feel happy to know someone at school cares for me outside my family. He knows what I’m capable of.”
Porritt’s commitment to his students extends into his personal life, especially since he’s moved into the area. He said, “I’m excited to live in the Long Reach community now. I see my students more often. They’ve met my family.”
On top of his Long Reach High School roles, Porritt is an assistant administrator of the HCPSS evening school and a summer school blended special educator. Previously, he served in leadership roles such as credit recovery site coordinator, 9th grade team leader, and basketball and lacrosse coach. He grew up in Michigan and began his teaching career in Harford County, before joining HCPSS four years ago.