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Bayvale Elementary is a Richmond County success story

School does well despite high number of low-income pupils

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Bayvale Elementary School is among a select group of Richmond County public schools that may provide a road map to success others in the district can use.

Bayvale Elementary School is leading the way for schools in Richmond County.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
Bayvale Elementary School is leading the way for schools in Richmond County.

At the small school off Milledgeville Road, 98.65 percent of the pupils qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, a status that is often used as a proxy for pupils living in poverty.

Of the 24 Title I schools in Richmond County – those that receive federal aid because they have high concentrations of pupils living in low-income families – that did make the federal “adequate yearly progress” standard, Bayvale had the second-highest percentage of pupils on free and reduced lunch. Only Jenkins-White Charter Elementary School, which had a 98.66 percent free-and-reduced lunch rate, was higher among those schools making AYP in the 2010-11 school year.

And the only other district schools with more than 90 percent of pupils qualifying for free and reduced lunch to make AYP last school year were Lamar-Milledge and Wheeless Road elementary schools.

Bayvale Principal Dana Harris is proud of her school’s success, but she is quick to deflect credit to her teachers, pupils, parents – and the surrounding community. During a recent interview, Harris said there is a triangle that helps a school succeed: school, home and community.

The staff is stable at Bayvale. Harris has been the principal for eight years, overseeing the year when the school set up shop next to Langford Middle School while its own building was extensively renovated. Many of Bayvale’s teachers have been there for a number of years, some long enough to teach children of former pupils.

The PTA is committed. While Harris is shy about accepting credit for success, PTA leaders heap on the praise.

“Dr. Harris has her finger on the pulse of what’s going on at school,” said PTA Treasurer Dawn Duncan. “She keeps the environment open and friendly. There is a lot more parent involvement inside the school.”

Duncan is a graduate of Bayvale, as are two of her children. She has two younger children who she plans to have attend Bayvale, and another who did until she was accepted at C.T. Walker Traditional Magnet School.

“My son was taught by my fifth-grade teacher (when he was) in fourth grade,” Duncan said, showing her own experience with the Bayvale faculty’s stability.

Harris proudly showed a reporter several classrooms. One kindergarten teacher, for example, animatedly read a story to his pupils, frequently allowing them to ask questions or make comments, while keeping them focused on the story. She also credited the district with keeping Bayvale and other schools technologically up-to-date. And some Title I money went toward purchasing an iPad for every classroom teacher. The teachers use the iPads to give a cutting-edge flourish to their lessons.

“Most of the teachers keep their Web pages updated,” Harris said. “Communication – e-mail, texts, phone calls, Global Connect, which allows us to send a critical mass message at one time to everybody – we keep our parents informed on upcoming activity at school.”

The principal added that while high-stakes tests such as the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test are important, the goal of the teachers and staff at Bayvale is ultimately to make sure the children learn what they need to know – both from the books and in life.

“It’s all about the kids,” she said.

PTA President Monique Mosley moved to Augusta from Waynesboro, Ga., two years ago. She has been impressed with Bayvale.

“My kids love school,” Mosley said. “It makes the parents feel good that the teachers are here for the students. It’s a job, yes, but they care for your kid. They feel comfortable coming to me and letting me know what’s going on.”

BAYVALE BY THE NUMBERS

Total Enrollment 401

Female 204

Male 197

Black 267

White 78

Hispanic 42

Multiracial 11

Pacific Islander 2

Asian 1

Comments (5) Add comment
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Craig Spinks
817
Points
Craig Spinks 11/27/11 - 01:00 am
0
0
Contrary to the popular

Contrary to the popular misconception that SES connotes fate, poor kids can do well in school when provided the appropriate supports. Such supports include, but are not limited to, competent, caring, energetic teachers; learning-focused administrators; a spirit of community joining the school and the home; school outreach to parents; parental participation in the instructional day; and recognition of student effort and success.

My omission of wheelbarrowsful of MONEY was not accidental.

Dr. Craig Spinks
Georgians for Educational Excellence

Riverman1
86912
Points
Riverman1 11/01/12 - 07:26 am
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A superior school such as

A superior school such as Bayvale is worth studying. There could be various factors, but a question that comes to my mind is how many of the children are from military families?

raul
5323
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raul 11/27/11 - 07:52 pm
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@Riverman. Good question,

@Riverman. Good question, River.

Riverman1
86912
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Riverman1 11/27/11 - 08:05 pm
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Raul, I suspect the district

Raul, I suspect the district has a large military population, but it could be something else. Is there a strong church in that area? Is there something unique? As Ms. Harris wisely says, it takes teachers, students, parents and the community to make a good school. I'd like to know what the variable is and I suspect it's something concrete not related to the school instruction.

Riverman1
86912
Points
Riverman1 11/28/11 - 04:52 pm
0
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Anyone else have any ideas

Anyone else have any ideas why that school does so well? See if I worked for the RC School System, I'd be examining the school and the area closely.

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