Principal Ben Edmondson
assembly. "If you want to change things, you've got to vote."
With passion, he describes how his grandmother, growing up in the segregated South, "had to memorize the United States Constitution to vote." (Later, he explains that she did successfully memorize it-and was among the minority of blacks allowed to vote.)
Now in his fourth year at Scarlett, Edmondson is cheerful and accessible but also clearly the boss. Scarlett Parent Teacher Student Organization treasurer Debbie Harris says her seventh-grade son tells her "that Dr. Edmondson is strict but that he keeps everyone doing the right thing." And PTSO president Brice O'Neal says "it was a night-and-day difference" when he took over: "I saw staff come alive."
Edmondson looks both taller (he's six feet one) and younger (he's pushing forty) than he is. When we meet at Tuptim, a Thai restaurant near the school, he is easily the best-dressed man in the room. He sports a herringbone tweed jacket over a silky gray turtleneck, and his brown shoes shine. Dressing well, he says, sets an example for the kids. He's banned drooping pants and exposed midriffs at Scarlett-and he keeps belts and T-shirts in the office in case anyone forgets.