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Warren County elementary school named to School of Excellence list

WARRENTON, Ga. -- Makeshia Bouttry smiles as she talks about the school her two children attend.

Warrenton_School.jpg

Mildred E. Freeman Elementary School fifth-grade teacher Denise Pennywell watches over her class as pupils Jacorbian Cowins (from left), Darius Williams and Jacorbian Reynolds work on their lessons.
Jim Blaylock/Morris News Service
Warren County's Mildred E. Freeman Elementary School also has a lot to smile about.

"It was great," she said. "It has been a low school for the longest time. Since it has come up, it has been really good. We take pride in it and hope to keep it a School of Excellence for many more years."

Last week, the school was one of only 26 in the state to be recognized as a Georgia School of Excellence.

The Georgia Schools of Excellence program was restructured this year to recognize schools that have shown significant improvement and are consistent top performers. It has evolved from a subjective application process to a data-driven model that uses test scores.

School leaders credit the teachers and students for the success, saying they've accepted the new and innovative programs that have resulted in significant academic gains during the past three years.

Three years ago, the school qualified for federal and state grants that have allowed it to hire a full-time family literacy coordinator and a literacy coach for teachers and offer after-school programs, summer enrichment programs and free meals for pupils.

Freeman_Elem_principal.jpg

Reason to celebrate
Jim Blaylock/Morris News Service
Now, for example, on the fourth-grade Criterion Referenced Competency Test, which tests a pupil's knowledge of the Georgia curriculum, pupils made a five-point gain in reading and a 30-point gain in mathematics since the 2000-01 school year.

"For years, this school has been on the bottom of every list in the state," said Superintendent for Warren County Schools Carol Jean Carey. "But we have identified areas of improvement, have new initiatives, have moved personnel around, have good leadership in place, and we've made progress. Now we are not on any needs improvement list."

Principal Vanessa Lancaster and Assistant Principal Rondalyn Pinckney say their hard work has been validated by test results. The test results are also tangible reminders of the success of the school's student body.

According to the Georgia Department of Education, the school has a minority population of 94 percent, with 92 percent qualifying for free or reduced-price lunch, an indicator of poverty.

"You can have a minority area, a poverty area, but these are motivated students capable of learning," Ms. Pinckney said.



Web posted on Thursday, January 15, 2004


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