Hitting the mark

Published 9:05 am Tuesday, July 27, 2010

WINDSOR – While Bertie County Schools may be struggling financially, there is good news on the horizon.

The school district had six of nine schools meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) according to preliminary testing results. The results are simply waiting approval by the State Board of Education in August.

All four of the county’s high schools met AYP and three of the four elementary schools also reached the standards.

Bertie High School, which encompasses the scores of both Bertie High and Bertie Prep, made 13 of their 13 targets during the academic year.

A year ago, Bertie High School met only five of 13 goals or 38.5 percent. During the 2007-08 academic year, the school met just six of the 13 goals while the year before that they met 10 of the 13 standards.

Bertie High School Principal G. Fisher Mitchell said he was pleased with the hard work of the students and staff and the results that were gained because of it.

“It was a lot of hard work by the staff and students,” Mitchell said. “Students stayed after school. Teachers stayed after school and both worked, even on weekends.

“We also received tremendous support from our parents who provided transportation for the extra work by the students,” he continued.

Mitchell said the major difference last year was a totally different attitude at Bertie High.

“The biggest difference is we changed the culture of Bertie High School,” he said. “It is now a place where teachers and students want students to be successful.”

The school Mitchell has led from its inception is one of the highest performing schools in the district.

The Bertie STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) School met AYP for the third consecutive year. That meant the STEM has met every mark since its inception.

The fourth high school in the county – the Bertie Early College High School – met Adequate Yearly Progress for the second year in a row. The school, which is an Agri-Science institution, met two of two targets to qualify for the distinction.

Like the STEM School, the Bertie Early College High School has been under the same leadership since it began. That guiding hand has also come from a veteran administrator in the form of Bobby Occena.

Occena, however, was quick to spread the credit.

“I haven’t done it, it has been done by the whole staff,” he said. “I have a staff of problem-solvers and also have a great group of parents who are very supportive of the school.”

The principal said last year was a change for the Early College High School and that he was happy with the students there.

“The accomplishment has been more incremental for us,” he said. “We started with a small number of kids from different backgrounds. Last year, we had a freshman class that was more cohesive.

“I’m excited about our results because even our exceptional children did well,” he added. “The preliminary results say we made AYP, but with almost 87 percent competency, we really should be a school of excellence.”

At the elementary school level, Bertie County Schools had three make AYP and a fourth come very close. Reaching their goals were Aulander Elementary, West Bertie Elementary and Colerain Elementary.

West Bertie, under the leadership of Principal Wayne Mayo, reached AYP for the third consecutive year as the school met all 13 of the standards on which they were measured.

Aulander Elementary School reached the standard for the second straight year as Principal Elaine White’s school also met all 13 target goals.

Also reaching AYP for the second consecutive year was Colerain Elementary School where Fannie Williams is the principal.

Windsor Elementary School narrowly missed reaching the AYP standard for what would have been the second consecutive year. The school met 12 of 13 performance targets or 92.3 percent.

Bertie Middle School also came close to meeting AYP. Sandra Hardy’s school hit 20 of 21 performance goals. The school did meet AYP in 2008-09.

The final tested area in the district is Bertie Academy, which is the umbrella school for the alternative sites. Bertie Academy hit one of two target goals.

Assistant Superintendent of School Carol Atkins said the school system’s success was due to hard work.

“The successful test results are the result of hard work from teachers, principals and especially the children,” Atkins said. “The key ingredient is the educator in the classroom. If the educator is pushing children and giving them something to work for, they’ll achieve.”