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English: Moore students can, will learn

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P.W. Moore Principal Sara English, shown here Tuesday, Aug. 8, said teachers and staff at the school are focused on making sure P.W. Moore students have a growth mindset — that they understand “college and career is well within their reach.” English made the statement after the school learned it had received an F performance grade from the state for last year.

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By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Friday, September 8, 2017

As state education officials announced on Thursday an F school performance grade for P.W. Moore Elementary School, Principal Sara English doubled down on her insistence that the school’s students are able to learn and that teachers will work to bring out the students’ potential.

Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Public Schools Superintendent Larry Cartner said Thursday afternoon “I have full confidence in Ms. English.”

Cartner said English was ready to talk to the staff Thursday about the school’s new letter grade once it was released by the state, he said.

“My thought is ‘there’s always a better tomorrow,’” Cartner said, adding he believes the staff at P.W. Moore is ready to focus on helping students learn what they need to learn this year.

English said teachers and staff are focused on making sure students have a growth mindset — that they understand “college and career is well within their reach,” regardless of what might be happening at home or what their previous performance might have been in school.

“One of the things that we will talk about with teachers is that while we know that this is disheartening for those of us who were here this past school year, the focus remains on students and doing what we need to do to bring the potential out of them,” English said.

English said will be communicating to parents that they need to join with teachers in holding up high expectations for students.

Teachers and staff at P.W. Moore are working to build trust and positive relationships with students, English said.

“Kids need to know that teachers care about them and believe that they can be successful,” she said.

English said the school needs people from the community to come in and volunteer at the school and reinforce the high expectations that teachers and administrators have for the school’s students.

“I think the most important thing is that we need parent and community support,” English said. She said research shows that students perform better when they have a strong level of support not only from teachers but also from parents and the community.

Cartner said the “transformation” model was the right school reform model for P.W. Moore Elementary School since the principal has just finished her first year at the school.

The “restart” model, which is being implemented at Pasquotank Elementary School and River Road Middle School, is generally considered a more thoroughgoing approach to reform. Restart offers even more flexibility than the transformation model.

But Cartner said the determining factor is really how long the principal has been at the school and he believes English, a second-year principal at P.W. Moore Elementary, is doing the things needed to turn the school around — recognizing that transformation is a matter for the long haul.

“We didn’t get that way overnight and any type of school improvement is a marathon and not a sprint,” Cartner said. He said the staff at P.W. Moore Elementary understands that and will be able to work on improvement for the long term.

“I think P.W. Moore folks are obviously disappointed,” Cartner said. But he reiterated that he believes the principal has the right group of people in place to undertake a transformation at the school.

Cartner said one of the big challenges at P.W. Moore Elementary is parent involvement and parents being on board to help students at home. He also said the community as a whole needs to support the teachers and staff at the school as they help students learn

“At our low-performing schools we really need community support,” Cartner said.

In addition, it’s necessary to communicate to teachers that they have to be willing to work with students on grade level and not try to “go back and fix gaps,” because that’s not really possible.

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