Dr. Alvin Taylor has been in charge of the Meridian Public School District for about 15 months now, and lots of changes have taken place during that time. This time last year, the school system was rated as "Low Performing", but with a plan and hard work, they have been able to overcome that and become a "Successful" school district.
"Every community has the same problems Meridian has. It's not the problems that define the community, it's the way you deal with the problems that define the community."
When they received their failing grade, they knew changes had to be made. They looked at what was being taught when and at what pace, and made changes where they thought it would benefit everyone.
"We put emphasis on rigor and relevance on the curriculum. We revved up our assessments, where we tracked the performance of the students, and the performance of the teachers and administrators every grading period."
One thing Taylor is most proud of is the new Health Small Learning Community. Two more are planned to open next year; one for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics; and one for fine arts. Taylor says they couldn't run these programs without some extra financial backing.
"We are getting a lot of support for that. Our school board is very supportive of the Small Learning Communities, as well as the Phil Hardin Foundation. They are a big reason why this program is up and running now."
Although the system has seen great improvements over the last year, their plan is to make sure the students are progressing at the rate they should be before they focus on a ranking.
"We're focusing more so on growth than looking at a label, so if we focus on moving our kids forward, we're going to get where we need to get."
Taylor hopes the school system will be rated as "High Performing" within the next few years.