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Rufus King principal, her mom come full circle

Posted: 2:03 PM, Mar 05, 2019
Updated: 2019-04-22 17:40:38-04
Principal Tanzanique Carrington, Shirley Stephens and Shirley's mom

Rufus King International High School Principal Tanzanique Carrington said she overcame the odds to get where she is today, thanks to her mom.

"A lot of my kids, some of my staff members don't know the whole story that I truly have come full circle," Carrington said.

Carrington's mom went to Rufus King and got pregnant when she was 15.

"Very scared, girls my age don't get pregnant," said Shirley Stephens.

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Stephens didn't tell her mom until six months in. The baby arrived in February 1973.

"She was 6 pounds, 12 ounces, 19 inches long," said Stephens.

She named her baby Tanzanique after the country Tanzania, and she called her Tan ever since.

"This is my love child," said Stephens.

Stephens went on to work for MPS but didn't get her diploma.

"That's one thing I regretted that I didn't, but I always told her, her two siblings, no matter what ya'll do make sure you finish high school," said Stephens.

Carrington wanted more.

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"What I remember my mom saying is don't make the same mistakes that I made," said Carrington.

Carrington has two master's degrees, and now she is working on getting her doctorate from NYU.

"Very proud," said Stephens.

The principal has memories visiting King as a kid.

"What I remember my mom saying is don't make the same mistakes that I made." — Tanzanique Carrington, principal at Rufus King International High School

"I remember having my afro puffs and riding in the parades around here in the old King stadium going to football games there," said Carrington.

Carrington was principal at Hartford University School before accepting the job at King. Her first day in the new role, Carrington knew she was home.

"It kind of sunk in and I understood the magnitude of that, but I also knew the responsibility that came along with that," said Carrington.

The career runs in the family. Carrington is married to the principal at North Division High School.

"We just had a recent basketball game, Rufus King won, of course, so we have the rivalry that happens in our household between the two schools as well," said Carrington.

They're teaching their daughter the importance of education, while setting an example for their students.

Rufus King principal, her mom share school connection

"There are so many statistics that people say about people who are born to teen parents and that you won't be successful. I'm living witness of the fact that you can be successful, you can go on, you can accomplish whatever you want to," said Carrington.

"It was hard, but we made it," said Stephens. "We made it," said Carrington.

Three hundred sixty-four students at MPS are parents. The district offers a Pregnant and Parenting Youth Program to help the young parents. One hundred fifty-eight students use the resource.

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