Booker T. Washington High School Principal Tasharah Wilson, shown here in a 2014 parade with her twin sons, plans to leave the high school to launch a new college and career academy. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Principal of Atlanta’s Washington High will leave to launch new academy

Booker T. Washington High School is looking for a new principal as its leader departs to start a new Atlanta school.

Tasharah Wilson will leave the school at the end of the year to become the first principal of the Atlanta College & Career Academy, slated to open in 2020.

She has served as Washington’s principal since 2014. Her new appointment is pending school board approval. 

The academy  will offer high school students from across the district training in automotive, aviation mechanics, business, construction, culinary arts, cybersecurity, nursing and other fields. The school board in December agreed to use sales-tax dollars to help pay for a roughly $12 million renovation of the Parks Middle School building, where the academy will be located.

In a letter announcing her departure, Wilson called it an honor to lead “an exceptional school full of history and pride.” The high school holds a special place in Atlanta. When it opened in 1924 it was the first public high school for African-American students in Georgia.

Washington enrolled 679 students as of October.

“The staff members always put students first, the students are hard-working, and the parents are supportive, friendly, and caring. I feel very fortunate to have been part of such a wonderful community dedicated to ensuring the success of our scholars,” Wilson wrote.

Atlanta Public Schools will give her a year to plan for the academy’s opening. She will use the 2019-2020 school year to hire employees, recruit students, design the program and build partnerships with groups to support the new academy.

It’s “critical” to spend that year in planning since APS is attempting to do something it hasn’t done before with the academy, said district spokesman Ian Smith, in a written statement.

The academy is expected to serve about 800 students, who will go there for morning or afternoon classes while continuing to take other courses at their home high school.


Superintendent Maria Carstarphen says despite their success, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done

The district’s decision to open the academy was motivated in part by an increased emphasis on college and career training, which is reflected in the report card score the state gives APS and other districts.

Launching the academy isn’t the only way APS is reshaping high school programs. In March, the school board is expected to vote on a recommendation to close Crim Open Campus High School. The closure is part of a plan to consolidate the district’s alternative education programs that give high schoolers another option instead of dropping out.

Wilson has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Arkansas State University and a doctorate in education from the University of Memphis, according to APS personnel documents.

With her departure, the Atlanta district will need to hire two new high school principals for next school year. Mays High School Principal Richard Fowler announced in December he was leaving the school. He has been principal since 2014.

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