I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Warrington Middle School Turn-Around, Pensacola Florida

I received the following email regarding the Warrington Middle School Turn-Around Project. The email has some valid concerns and raises some good points. People are concerned, but I believe that what the district is going to do at Warrington is the right decision. My response to this email is below.

"XXXXXXX" 05/30/09 9:10 AM >>>

Mr. Bergosh,

I am writing about the recent turn around at Warrington Middle School. Yes, I do believe we need help at Warrington, but I don't believe in replacing all the staff. One thing our students lack now is consistancey. How can they honestly start next year with new everybody? New (Very) new AP's have to go through extensive training their first two years. I know because I have watched Dr. Quarells and Mr. Watts working on theirs. These people might be very good picks but untrained at a time when we need test and true leaders. As a voter that has a XXXXX at Warrington Middle I don't agree with Mr. Thomas's total Plan. I did not vote for him but I did vote for you. My student's FCAT 4 fell to a 3 because he had 6 teachers in his math class the first three months. I moved him to a different teacher to give him stability, but keep him in advance classes. But then his Lang. Arts teacher retired. Every day he hated going to that class because he did not know who would be their teacher. XXXXXXXX took over both lang arts classes lesson plans and it got a little better. Our teachers jumped through the hoops, now lets pull out the rug...

Mr./Mrs. XXXXXX,

Thanks for taking the time to write. Warrington Middle School has some challenges facing it that other Middle Schools in our district do not necessarily have. I am at this school once per week, (I mentor an eighth grade student at Warrington) and what I have seen over the last year at WMS has left me concerned; Frankly I'm glad that some changes are going to be made.

This said, I do not believe that an arbitrary, wholesale turnover of staff will be done--I'm told that the most motivated, top achieving teachers from WMS have been invited to re-apply for their positions. In short, it is my understanding that current teachers at Warrington who are proven performers (having shown demonstrated ability in the past to reach these WMS students and drive student achievement) will be encouraged to stay. But I am also told that we are looking to hire motivated, high performing teachers from around the district and even from neighboring districts to fill positions at WMS. I have complete confidence that the upcoming changes contemplated for Warrington Middle School will be nothing but beneficial to the Students and Parents of this community. WMS is on a very short list (13 statewide) of schools that were "intervene" schools. Action was needed locally before the State stepped in and dictated a response; so, under this environment, I understand the superintendent's rationale for wanting (needing) to make a dramatic change right away.

I know that consistency is a huge issue-and it is unfortunate that your student had a string of different teachers in Math and Language arts last year. Kudos to you for being involved and proactive with changing his class assignment when you felt it to be appropriate. I only wish more families would get more involved in the education process of their children! (Or students, in your case) No matter how great the teacher, facility, textbooks or technology, the whole process comes together at its fullest potential only when/if a parent or guardian is involved and engaged. Expanding upon this, the schools in or district that are year in and year out highest performing have strong parental participation (PTAs, Class Volunteers, Community Partnerships).

I hope that this upcoming year will begin a new era at WMS, with district resources pouring in, additional attention being given to performance, and a renewed focus on increasing community support and engagement. When all of these occur simultaneously, success will not be far behind, in my opinion. The plan for Warrington Middle School is a starting point, but eventually the community must buy-in, and become engaged in order to sustain excellence.

Mr./ Mrs XXXXX, I hope you will join us in this transformation. I also want to say thanks for your support for me individually when I ran for my position. It always humbles me when people tell me they supported me by voting for me. I do not take that support lightly, I do not take it for granted, and I will always try my best to do the best I can at whatever I'm doing.

Most importantly, I will always vote to do the right thing for the right reason--even when doing this is unpopular.Voting to support the Superintendent in this case was the right thing to do for the right reasons.

Jeff Bergosh

Jeff BergoshEscambia County School Board, Dist. 1


Anonymous said...

teachers will be the most important part of this turnaround,without strong teachers this will be harder

Jeff Bergosh said...

Teachers are an important component, and they are no-doubt the most important school related component, but I disagree that they are the MOST important overall component to the WMS turn-around. Getting the parents and guardians involved is the singular most important factor. If we can get these parents, the students, and the community involved--then our chance for success improves. But all of the technology, great teachers, district support, and great intentions in the world will not get this school turned around without the parents becomming actively engaged in the education of thier children. This is essential, in my opinion.