AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)- As a former educator I’ve experienced firsthand what a struggling school system looks like and how with dedicated teachers, community support,and parent involvement that same school can be turned around within a year. Prior to becoming a reporter at WJBF NewsChannel 6 I was a journalism instructor at one of the lowest performing schools in the state of Florida. During my time as a teacher my school along with six others in the county received harsh criticism for it’s academic performance and low test scores.
Shortly after the investigative report was released several schools were placed under a transition of leadership with the hiring of a new chief turnaround leader tasked with intervening in failing schools to help them improve. School principals were shifted around and teachers were given a chance to opt out of their contracts. A new principal and administrative team was also hired from out of state and ultimately the entire culture of the school shifted and within one year the school letter grade, based on how well students performed on standardized testing, had gone up from a letter grade of an F to a C.
While teaching I learned so much about the importance of students having a well-rounded education not just academically but holistically. Many of the students I taught were living in extreme poverty and often times had trouble concentrating on their schoolwork. When I left the classroom I had a deeper appreciation for teachers and the work that goes into creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for their students. Because of the passion and love I had developed for my students I wanted to continue to tell their stories of how they overcame adversity both in the classroom and in their communities.
When arriving to Augusta the very first story I had the opportunity to cover was Opportunity School District. At the time it was Georgia Governor Nathan deals plan to aid failing schools. The plan would authorize the state to temporarily step in to assist chronically failing public schools and rescue children languishing in them.
After covering the story I immediately recognized the similarities between the Richmond County School district and the one in which I was a teacher back home in Florida. Currently there are 33 schools that would’ve qualified under OSD. Below is a clip from Richmond County Superintendent Dr. Angela Pringle about the current state of those schools and how they’ve improved since OSD was introduced. Tune in to my special television report on the future of Education in Augusta airing on Thursday November 16th at 6:00pm