Principal fulfills promise he made to pupils

Principal Hartley Gibbons spent the night on the roof of the school after challenging his students to succeed on standardized tests.

When Terrace Manor Elementary School Principal Hartley Gibbons saw the results from the school's Benchmark II test in math, he knew he had to do something.

"The scores from the second Benchmark were not where they needed to be,'' Mr. Gibbons said, ''so I told the third-, fourth- and fifth-graders that for each grade that met the proficient level on the Benchmark III test, I would spend one night on the school's roof. So I could have spent up to three nights on the roof.

"Though they improved, the third and fourth grades didn't meet the proficient level. However, the fifth grade exceeded the requirements."

The fifth graders had the second-highest percentage of pupils reaching the proficiency level in the county. C.T. Walker Magnet School had the highest.

"I was sitting in a training session when I saw the scores, and I thought there was an error. The scores had drastically improved from the second Benchmark," he said. "When I came back to the school, I asked the instructional coach if the scores were correct, and when she told me they were, I was just so elated.

"I knew they could do it, but to see the results on paper, it confirms that our kids can do it."

Mr. Gibbons fulfilled his end of the challenge by staying on the roof from 2:30 p.m. April 22 to 8:30 a.m. April 23.

What does a principal do on the roof for 18 hours?

"Work," he said.

He went over disciplinary files, made calls to parents and completed staff appraisals.

He took two sandwiches, three bottles of water, snacks, a radio, his Bible, a flashlight, a book, blanket, a pillow and a poncho liner to the roof with him.

"I'm very proud of the students. They worked hard and, well, that hard work sent me to the roof," he said with a laugh. "But I don't mind because if that motivates them to do their best, I would do it again."

Reach Nikasha Dicks at (706) 823-3336 or nikasha.dicks@augustachronicle.com.

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