Cherron Murray looks back fondly on her school days in Philadelphia.
She especially remembers her fourth-grade teacher, Nancy Taggert, who helped change the trajectory of her education.
“I was having such a hard time in fourth grade with reading, social studies. I was failing and she didn’t toss me to the side,” Cherron said. “She wanted to get to know who I was and some of the things that I was encountering in my life that might have hindered me from performing.”
Cherron graduated from Howard University with a degree in communications. She wanted to pursue a career in film and documentary production. But she also had a feeling that she could be a good teacher. After consulting with a good friend, who was also a teacher, Cherron decided to listen to the thought she first had in fourth grade.
“I think, ultimately, that fourth grade teacher was the first person who made me go, ‘I might want to do something like that when I get older,’” she said.
She became a kindergarten teacher at an all-boys school in Washington, D.C., and eventually got promoted to dean of students. Looking for her next opportunity, Cherron decided to work at a high school as a pathways coordinator. The school served students who were struggling to graduate and needed additional services.
“I was able to work with a lot of different kinds of youth – from kids who were academically sound, to kids who were really struggling, dropped out and coming back, and the incarcerated population,” she said. “It’s a place they can come to when things aren’t working out in a traditional sense.”
After 13 years in Washington, Cherron moved to New York City. She knew she wanted to work in schools but was looking to make a difference outside of the public-school system. A role as a college and career coordinator at Children’s Aid was the perfect fit. Starting in 2019, she began working with high school students to guide them through their post-secondary and career aspirations.
In 2021, a position at our Bronx Career and College Prep community school opened up. The community school director was leaving and knew Cherron would be a great successor.
Now Cherron leads a team of staff dedicated to providing new opportunities to high school students in the Bronx. From partnerships with Madison Square Garden, to cosmetology and culinary classes, student government, and college and career support, every student is allowed to explore their interests.
In addition to great academics and family supports, Cherron’s staff also tackles chronic absenteeism. Ensuring students are in the classroom every day is important to their overall success.
“In the morning, we check on every student to see if they’re in the building, then we make the necessary calls to their homes,” she said. “We also have a lot of events like Taco Tuesday to bring up the school culture and climate and make it a place where students want to be. They make the atmosphere fun, and they connect well with the students.”
Last year, for the first time in many years, school attendance hit 80 percent. Cherron credits her staff with this success as they make connections with every student who attends Bronx Prep.
“We have a small student body, but I think its powerful that we can see every student, know every student, and be able to provide opportunities for every student in the building,” she said.