School Improvements

With just over 1250 students the East Jasper school district is working to recover from lagging test scores.

Earlier this year the district's only high school, Heidelberg High, was listed as one of the state's 17 lowest performing schools. The ranking was the result of the school's rating on state tests last school year. As for the district's elementary school, things were better but not much with a rating of two on a scale from one to five.

However, district officials say thanks to teamwork, slowly but surely things are looking up. In fact the latest results show that overall, the high school students grades were up by 57 percent last fall from a year ago at the same time.

"We've been getting a lot of support," says Superintendent Montrell Greene, "However, the support isn't just verbal. We've been getting financial support as well and having people who are willing to give of their time and means."

Now in his first year with the district, Superintendent Greene says a number of groups from the community have already committed between $3,000 and $5,000 to the district. He says all of this money will be used for efforts such as one, which provides a small cash award to teachers whose students show high achievement.

"That's a great incentive to me because if you get an award that makes you want to do more and more," says 11th grade history teacher Gloria Dantzler who recently received a $35 award.

Other new initiatives in place encourage students to read. This includes the principal's Book of the Month program and that's not all. Earlier in the year school officials say a minister from the community dressed up as Santa Claus and handed out gift-wrapped books to students for another reading initiative. Also last nine week's students who made all A's were granted a wish of their choice. For a group of high schoolers this meant a free ride in a limo and dinner, something which was all courtesy of the district and community at large.

Although good, district officials say there is still more to come.

"We're not going to try to put any quick fixes in for a short term just to try to tickle what people are looking for. We're going to try to make some tough decisions and see what we need to do for children for the long haul," says Supt. Greene.

The next state testing period is in March.