ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Much of the reporting done on the start of a new year in Rochester city schools focused on the challenges, transportation crisis and serious allegations made against the superintendent of schools. Sometimes, the positives in the district are easily overlooked. 

One school’s new principal is a homegrown educator who’s taking the challenges head-on, while highlighting the good stuff.

Class has been in session for about a month at Rochester’s Clara Barton School No. 2. A new year brings a brand new principal. Corey Hepburn was raised in Rochester city schools where he got to know offices like the one he now occupies.

“I remember as a young learner, my time in the principal's office,” said Hepburn. “You know, it wasn't always for good reasons.”

Now, there’s a great reason he’s here. To help his students reach their potential.

“Part of my commitment to learning is looking at challenges as opportunities,” he said.

From poverty to crime to COVID-19, many urban schools have plenty of them. Hepburn says he takes challenges head-on but prefers to also highlight the success stories which go largely untold.

“People don't know the great things that are happening because they only get one story,” he said. “ And today we're talking about the other side. The positive, the great, the educators that are committed, that are going beyond.”

Those are the kinds of stories you’ll find on Hepburn’s social media feeds. A passion for students, and the desire to connect with families. He says success is harder without their involvement.

“We're sharing what's happening here in total transparency and we're telling our own story,” he said. “And that’s one way to connect with families.”

Hepburn replaced his old Spanish teacher, who recently retired from the principal’s office at School No. 2. Despite being a principal, Corey Hepburn is still a student. He received his associate's degree from MCC, earned two master's degrees at Robert’s Wesleyan and is currently a doctoral candidate at St. John Fisher.

It’s a job, and a responsibility, he doesn’t take lightly.

“Making that shift from being sent to the principal and now being the one receiving these scholars and understanding the impact that you can have, they understand that, like you, they can continue to work towards academic success,” he said.