Murrell Dobbins High School Career and Technical Education Centers High School in North Philadelphia is celebrating a first in its 85-year history.
Today the school appointed a Dobbins alumna, Shervon Thompson, to serve as principal.
Thompson graduated in 1996 as class president and member of the National Honors Society. She then went to college for four years and has been at Dobbins her entire career, first as a cosmetology teacher. She eventually worked her way up to become assistant principal, and now, she’s leading once again.
“We are partners,” said Thompson, speaking Wednesday afternoon to a crowd of alumni, staff, students, and community members. “I guarantee you, I will partner with you and prepare every young person, every Mustang that walks through our doors, that they will be ready to receive all of the opportunities that are going to be before them.”
Thompson thanked those who supported her on her path, including her family, her children, the Dobbins alumni association, and her mentor of nine years, previous Dobbins principal, Dr. Toni Damon.
“It’s not just me. It’s us. I didn’t get here alone,” said Thompson. “Every one of you in this room put something into me. I have a vision, I do. I take on a commitment and a responsibility. That’s what I will do. But the action is us. It takes a village to raise children. It takes a team to make a leader look great.”
Thompson asked her family members to stand up in the audience. About 10 people stood, many of whom were also Dobbins alumni.
“They model support, they model love,” said Thompson, “They model how you work hard to get what you want. Because of your modeling, that’s why I’m here today.”
Many alumni and school community members spoke in awe of Thompson, and told stories about their parents who also attended Dobbins.
Elizabeth Lowe, who now works at the University of Pennsylvania, graduated from Dobbins in 2009 and got to know Thompson well through her network of friends.
“So I wasn’t surprised that she came back as a teacher. Nobody understands the school like a student. I know she knows what the school needs,” said Lowe.
Hailey Ivory, a rising junior at the school, said Thompson helped students through virtual learning these past two school years.
“Ms. Thompson stuck with us,” said Ivory.
She added that Thompson routinely checks in on students as she walks the hallways. “She’s been like another parent, but at school,” said Ivory. “There is nobody that can be a better fit than her.”
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney joined the ceremony to congratulate Thompson on her new role.
“We were struggling a bit during COVID, and after COVID, and now with the violence that we are seeing in our streets,” said Kenney. “But I have deep faith in our kids, I have deep faith in our teachers and our administrative staff to get our kids through this and to get out the other side.”
State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta called it “a good day in North Philadelphia.”
“Just think about what that’s going to mean for young people,” said Kenyatta. “It’s no small thing, for young people who walk in the halls knowing that their principal has done the same thing. And that that is an option for them. It is so difficult for young people to be something they can’t see.”
The Dobbins alumni association was rooting for Thompson to become principal, said Connie J. Little, treasurer of the alumni executive committee.
“There are two lasting bequests we can give our children: one is roots, the other is wings,“ said Little. “Our new principal will help them fly.”
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