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Changes pay off for GMS

Left to right: Greta Whiddon, Nancy Hartley, Kathy Pickens, L to R standing: Deedra Benson Media Specialist, Margaret West 5th-6th grade administrator, Shayne Mullins, Kent McNaughton 7th-8th administrator, Michelle Myrick GMS Counselor Marcus Burkett, Curtis Black Principal.

Greenville Middle School principal Curtis Black knows that change isn’t always well received, but that at times it’s necessary.

“Change can be a good thing, and a bad thing,” Black said. “Change isn’t always for the best and it’s not always popular, but there are cases where changes have to made to achieve certain goals.”

That certainly proved to be true for GMS. After four consecutive years of failing to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), the school met 100 percent of the goals required under No Child Left Behind (NCLB) this year — Black’s first year as the school’s principal.

“We’re very excited,” Black said. “As a school, we needed this. I’m grateful to Mr. (Jai) Hill for the groundwork that he laid during his time as principal. All I had to do was jump in and get started.”

GMS met all 21 goals this year after failing to meet the requirements in reading for the special education sub-group in the previous years.

“It’s a hard battle when students are faced with a disability, but the requirements for making AYP are that all students, regardless of whether they are faced with a disability or not, are proficient in both reading and math,” Black said. “That’s the standard we are held to, and our students, faculty and administrators worked very hard to make sure we achieved that goal this year.”

Black credited the school’s faculty, along with the assistant principals Kent McNaughton and Margaret West and Alabama Department of Education Peer Mentor Rheta McClain. Black said Butler County Schools Superintendent Darren Douthitt and the Central Office staff also played an important role in the school making AYP.

“Everyone bought into the administration team’s plan,” Black said. “The reason we were successful is that we were all in it together – the students, faculty, parents and administrators.

“Rheta McClain was also very instrumental in our success. She was a tremendous asset to us this year.”

Now, the challenge facing GMS is to continue to meet the AYP requirements.

“It’s only going to get tougher,” Black said. “We’re going to celebrate this victory and get back to work preparing for the upcoming year.”

Black said the keys for the school’s continued success will be to continue to observe instruction, provide feedback to teachers, routinely develop plans of action, continue open communication with parents, grow involvement with the PTA and work on school culture and perception.

“We’re going to do whatever it takes to meet the needs of all of our students,” he said.

But for now, Black and the rest of the GMS staff are busy celebrating.

“I plan to go to Disney World,” Black joked.