While the parents of students of Mineral Springs Elementary have a choice to transfer their student to Washington Street or Fairview Heights this year, some parents are planning to stick by the school despite the criticism.
As a Title I school, No Child Left Behind federal regulations stipulate parents must be given the option of transferring their students from the school on the basis of performance on end-of-grade (EOG) testing over the previous two years.
Last year, parents had the option of transferring students to West Rockingham, but this year’s choice is further away from Ellerbe.
Bus transportation will be provided, but some parents, like working mother Karen Wilson, prefer to drop their kids off, and don’t like the idea of sending their children so far away every day.
“It would be tough for me (to carry my son to Washington Street every morning),” Wilson said. “I work out-of-county, so it’s tough enough for me to get him to Mineral Springs in the morning.”
Wilson said her Ellerbe home is about eight miles from Mineral Springs, while it would be a “22 or 23 mile” trek to Washington Street in the mornings - in the opposite direction of her job.
She said the school is willing to do just about anything to accommodate her and her special needs child.
“I think if your vocal with the teachers there, and you let them know the needs you see for your child, they really will try to work with you,” Wilson said. “The thing is, if you don’t let them know ... then they don’t know.”
Wilson added that she’d “never been given any reason to have to take anything outside of the school. They’ve always been willing to work with me.”
Wendi Jordan is the new principal at Mineral Springs, where seven of 25 target groups didn’t pass their EOG’s. Which seven groups won’t be known until the state board approves the results of AYP testing in early August.
She was previously the principal of Rohanen Primary, a perennial AYP-achiever, and is not intimidated at the task of taking the helm at Mineral Springs.
“I’m excited and I’m optimistic about this school year, just like every principal in the county is every year,” Jordan said Wednesday. “Really, the thing you have to always keep in mind is the children, and what’s best for them. It’s just going to be a wonderful year. This is a beautiful community, and we have some great children and families here.
“We’re just going to get in here and work hard, just like we did at Rohanen and just like everyone else in the county, and do the right thing.”
She said all the specific strategies the school will use to bolster performance aren’t in place yet, but she plans to involve the families of students in activities at the school as much as possible.
“Just coming in, I’m still looking at data every single day ... and trying to formulate a definitive game plan,” Jordan said Wednesday. “(Which subgroups didn’t pass) is definitely something you take into account, because you want to do the best you can for each subgroup of students.”
Jordan hopes to bring positive momentum to the school, recognizing the hardship some parents in the northern end of the county would have to endure if they pull their children out in favor of one of the options.
“That would be a tough choice for me to make, to put my child on the bus that long every day,” she said. “I think that is one of the many considerations parents should keep in mind when they make their decisions.”
For working Mineral Springs mother Amy Yaklin, whose youngest daughter is entering third grade, the trip to Washington Street wouldn’t be a big deal because she works in Rockingham.
That’s not the route she’s decided to go, though.
She’s been satisfied with the job the school did with her two older daughters, who were at the top of their classes at Richmond Senior High, and one of them is in college, after attending Mineral Springs.
“I like Mineral Springs,” Yaklin said. “I think that overall, they’ve got good teachers. I wish their ratings were a little bit higher, but I think there are a lot of factors that go into them.”
Yaklin said some factors are out of the control of the school’s faculty and staff, such as its status as having the largest English as a Second Language population of students in the county.
“When you can’t speak English, it’s hard to pass these tests,” she said.
Yaklin said she would also like to see more extra-curricular activities, such as tutoring and clubs. Her overall opinion of the school is warm, though.
“I’m pleased with the school, and I’m pleased with the teachers,” Yaklin said. “My children have never had a bad teacher there.”
Staff Writer Philip D. Brown can be reached at (910) 997-3111 ext. 32, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.