School overcomes obstacles

When Principal Marva Tutt talks about her school, she puts it in the same category as magnet and private schools.

 

Such a comparison may be a bit surprising, considering that the state required Jenkins-White Elementary School to undergo restructuring in 2004 after years of languishing on the "needs improvement" list.

But last year, the school was off the list, and last summer state officials gave approval for it to become a charter school.

Since then, Dr. Tutt has involved parents and the community in the school's restructuring, and this evening it will be open to the community at large during a weeklong celebration of National Charter School Week activities.

As part of the week's festivities, schoolchildren had a field day, which came on the heels of last week's state testing. They hopped around in sacks, played tug-of-war and competed in relay races.

"It's pretty challenging, but it's fun," Caitlen Prince, 8, said.

And Beyonce Johnson, 8, agreed, saying it was fun to work out.

But children weren't the only ones enjoying the activities. Many parents also were at the school.

"It's very important to me that the community get involved because basically it's a home away from home," Nelva Ridley said as she watched her son pull on the rope.

Parent and teacher Angeline Andrews-Milton said things are looking up at the school and she is proud of the changes taking place.

"It feels a whole lot better this year," she said.

Mrs. Andrews-Milton cited more small-group instruction and after-school tutoring for children in first through fifth grades.

A year ago, Dr. Tutt and other school officials spent much of their time answering questions from the Department of Education as Jenkins-White's charter application crept through the approval process.

"That's a huge burden lifted," she said.

As part of the plan, Jenkins-White is preparing to be the first elementary school in Richmond County to offer the International Baccalaureate Programme, which will provide a world class curriculum and Spanish classes to all pupils.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or greg.gelpi@augustachronicle.com.