On the A list: Grandy Primary scores 'A' on report

090718 Camden
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Gavin King 8, (right) and Alexis Emmons, 8, (behind Gavin) work on math problems in Deborah Penwell's third-grade class at Grandy Primary School in Camden, Thursday. Students and staff at Grandy Primary are celebrating after their school earned an "A" on the annual N.C. School Report Card.

090718 Camden

By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Friday, September 7, 2018

CAMDEN — Grandy Primary School is celebrating its new status as an “A” school on the North Carolina School Report Card.

“I’m really excited about this accomplishment,” Grandy Primary Principal Tim Lazar said Thursday, a day after the N.C. Department of Public Instruction released its annual report on the performance of the state’s public schools.

According to that report, Grandy Primary is only the second school in the Albemarle to receive an “A” letter grade. J.P. Knapp Early College High School in Currituck received an “A” in the 2017-18 report, marking the fourth consecutive year the school has earned the top mark.

Camden County Schools Superintendent Joe Ferrell congratulated Grandy Primary on its success.

“I am very proud of the Grandy Primary School students and staff for this amazing accomplishment,” Ferrell said. “I know achieving a North Carolina School Report Card grade of A has been a goal for them and it is great to see them reach that goal. The environment at GPS is so caring and supportive and the education students receive is second to none. I look forward to celebrating this accomplishment with them.”

Lazar said Thursday that Grandy Primary’s success starts with its mission, which is to develop in students a love of learning, build a solid academic foundation for students and prepare them for the future.

Even though the school’s “A” grade is based on third-graders’ test scores it actually reflects the foundation that is laid beginning in pre-kindergarten classes, Lazar said.

“I believe that our teachers go the extra mile,” he said. “They’re very passionate about what they do.”

Grandy has a mix of teachers at different experience levels but benefits from a high number of veteran teachers and very low teacher turnover, according to Lazar. He said the positive school culture at Grandy contributes to the low turnover rate.

“When you get up in the morning and you look forward to going to work — that says a lot about your attitude and your ability to do something great in the classroom,” Lazar said.

Grandy teachers and staff have fun at school and work to make learning fun for students, he said.

Asked about the lighthearted atmosphere in the school office, Lazar commented, “If you can’t have fun at an elementary school you’re in the wrong business.”

When problems are identified at the school, the school communicates clearly with parents — and parents are very responsive and supportive, Lazar said.

“We have really good students,” Lazar said. “They do their very best every day.”

The school focuses not on test scores as such but on students being the very best they can be every day, according to Lazar.

Lazar said he treats his teachers as the experts in the classroom and doesn’t try to micro-manage what they do.

Lazar said Ferrell does a good job of analyzing what goes on at schools and tweaking details to make things better. The superintendent also understands how to lead schools from being good to being excellent, Lazar said.