The school’s grade goes from ‘D’ to ‘C’ with major support from the community.
BY ANDREAS BUTLER
Campbell Middle School received an “C’’ grade last week from the Florida Department of Education. While that was an improvement over the past few years, the school’s principal has his sights on moving that up to an “A.’’
The school, located in the heart of Daytona’s Black community, had received a “D” grade for the past few years and was in danger of being taken over by the state.
“We are very excited about the improvement, but it is just a stepping stone to greater things,” said Dr. Jerry Picott, Campbell’s principal.
The school was given the 2016-17 academic year to turn things around.
“The district was proactive. They decided on a different direction of leadership and put myself and my administration in,” Picott told the Daytona Times.
Picott was hired in January as principal. His assistant principals are Kimberly Matthews, Casey Korkus and Eric Polite.
When Picott took over as principal, he quickly released a plan to improve the school and to raise its test grades.
The improvement came by a change of culture.
Picott explained, “The most important thing that we did was put together a culture that focuses on student learning. We put the strategies in place and also made a safe environment where the kids could come to school and focus on learning and nothing else but learning.’’
Changes for kids
Building relationships with students was another key.
“The relationship part is critical with me. My leadership is geared toward benefiting people. I am a people-person first. I want to make sure that the kids are comfortable,’’ Picott noted.
“I want them to know that I care about them as people first. I want my kids to know that I love them and that I come to work because I won’t compromise them not being successful.’’
The school also increased tutoring, remediation and a Saturday school. In addition, there was improved instructional growth as well as an expansion on the use of technology.
Up next is having the school perform even better.
“Our ultimate goal is to get the school to an “A.’’ The faculty and administration know that it’s attainable,” Picott told the Times.
Continued improvement in several areas tested by the state will make that happen.
Picott said, “It all is in gains in certain areas. It’s all learning gains. Students must show improvements in different areas of FSA (Florida Standards Assessments) and the end-of-course exam.”
That includes improving in areas such as language arts (grades 6-8), mathematics (grades 6-8), geometry, algebra; seventh-grade civics, eighth-grade science, end-of-course exams and others.
Plenty of support
Community support also helped the students. That has come through a number of ways, including tutoring and financial support.
The principal noted that the Volusia County School Board leadership, City of Daytona Beach, Volusia County Sheriff’s Office, Daytona Beach Black Clergy Alliance, Bethune-Cookman University, League of Women Voters all helped.
“These entities gave a coalition of support that gave Campbell the lift that it needed. It’s important because the kids believed that everyone was against them. This support showed them that the entire Daytona Beach community is supporting them in so many different ways. That built the students’ confidence to do their best,” the principal explained.
“Our kids were focused and put their best foot forward. They knew the faculty and staff supported them, but the community support it was big. This is our school. This is a community school. Campbell Middle School is Daytona Beach.’’
The Rev. Derrick Harris, president of the Daytona Beach Black Clergy Alliance, said he is proud of Campbell’s students, principal, administration and faculty.
“I am thankful for all the churches who got involved, whether by volunteering, tutoring or feeding. We will continue to follow up and help where needed,’’ he told the Times.
‘B’ for Turie T.
Turie T. Small Elementary was another Daytona school with great improvement. The school, which had received a “D’’ for the past two years, earned a “B’’ on the school accountability report issued by the Florida Board of Education.
No Volusia County schools received an “F.’’ The only middle school in Volusia County to get an “A’’ was Creekside in Port Orange. And no Volusia high school received an “A,’’ but none of those schools went lower than a “C.’’
The Volusia County school district received an overall “B’’ grade.