During the summer of 2012, the Adelmanns moved to Louisville, KY. Their son Peyton was entering his freshman year of high school. Despite “warnings” from realtors, her hair stylist, and community busy-bodies, they chose to send their youngest to The Academy @ Shawnee where he could participate in the school’s aviation magnet. Peyton was also intrigued by the aerospace connections at the school and was eager to also join the Navy Jr. ROTC program. It was a so-called “failing” school, but the principal was dynamic, the staff was compassionate, and the facility was amazing. There was more to that school than its test scores.
That year had its challenges. The school did not have an active PTA, so Adelmann decided to start one, so their students would be able to apply for needs-based scholarships offered by the state and national PTA, and also to have access to the clothes closet that the local district PTA manages. Membership quickly grew.
That summer, the school’s dynamic principal was forced to resign because the school’s priority status forces “change for the sake of change” every 3 to 4 years when a school is persistently low achieveing, regardless of the socio-economic status of the population it serves. This was the first real wake-up call for Adelmann.
During open house at the start of the 2013-2014 school year, Adelmann met Erin Korbylo, when she stopped by the PTA table to join. Erin’s son Nik was also there to get his pilot’s license, something he’s wanted to do for as long as anyone can remember.
Shortly thereafter, a community forum was called to discuss a new “plan” for Shawnee. With no principal in place, and no clear efforts by district leaders to determine the needs of the students and staff in the building before proposing said plan, Adelmann and Korbylo realized something was amiss.
They attended the community forum where they were dismayed by the tactics used to “manage” the crowd and gaslight anyone who had something negative or even constructive to say. They then attended the board meetings where these same leaders presented the results of the community forum to our elected board members, claiming “everyone was in favor of the plan.”
Flabbergasted, they reached out to board members and let them know that they were being misled by the administration. They, along with several other parents, teachers, students and community members, spoke at board meetings asking the board move forward with replacing the open principal position (a problem which should never have been created in the first place), before moving forward with any kind of “plan.”
11/26/13 – https://wfpl.org/jcps-halts-redesign-shawnee-high-considering-principal-applicants/
Repeatedly hearing, “the district is going to do what the district is going to do,” Adelmann responded, “Not on my watch. These are our kids, our tax dollars, our schools. And we will take back our district.”
When the district used fraudulent data to justify cutting funding to the Challenger Learning Center, housed at Shawnee, they organized speakers to address the board again, and coined the name Dear JCPS. “The name was a play on Dear John. We were breaking up with the district,” said Korbylo.
As their successes became more widely known, parents, teachers and students from schools across the district started reaching out to Adelmann and Korbylo. In December of 2015, they decided to give a safe way for stakeholders to have their voices heard by conducting an anonymous letter campaign.
12/10/15 – https://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/education/2015/12/10/group-solicits-anonymous-letters-jcps/77064906/
Peyton is a Midshipman at the United States Naval Academy, double majoring in nuclear and mechanical engineering. Class of 2020.
Nik is attending Middle Tennessee State University on partial scholarship, where he is working to obtain his commercial pilot’s license. Class of 2021.
Failing school, my eye.