By Kelli J. Cook 2001
Together We Can Make a Difference!
If you want to know why Gray Elementary School is special, just take a look at the first part of their mission statement: the mission of our school is to keep the student’s best interest “at heart.” With an approximate enrollment of 750 children, this is a monumental task that stays a top priority at this wholesome and well-designed public learning environment located in Jones County.
Because this Targeted Assistance Title I school is firmly committed to the belief that children who are good readers and writers will be better, happier students and citizens, they utilize a four-block literacy model for language arts instruction. Saxon phonics is the basis of the Working with Words block and Saxon Math is currently being piloted at each grade level since this is the year for math textbook adoption. They also have implemented an “Early Bird Reading Program” for students who arrive early to school and would like extra help developing their reading skills. And these efforts are starting to show results. Last year’s fourth grade CRCT (criterion referenced test) scores were well above the state average!
However, one of the school’s biggest strengths is their recognition that family and community involvement in education makes a difference. Leslie Poythress, the school’s own full time parent coordinator, serves as a liaison between home and school, organizes “Parent Universities” and parent/student activities, and is a vital link in the communication between GES and parents.
Additionally, they have a “Parents as Partners” program in which every child’s parent participates. The brochure that introduces parents to this program begins with this statement by U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley: “Better education is everybody’s business.” Each year a written compact is developed to indicate how all members of the Gray Elementary School community (parents, teachers, principals, students, and concerned community members) agree to share responsibility for student learning. The school even has its own “Parent Center,” complete with a book trade area, college corner, and educational resources that can be checked out to help them with their child’s education. What a great way to encourage parental involvement!
Principal Cecil Patterson states, “It is hard to see just how good Gray Elementary School is by only reading facts. There is a ‘feel” about the school. When you enter our school you can feel the undercurrent of excitement that comes from teachers and students working hard to make learning fun.” And as Mr. Mathews, Jones County Superintendent frequently says, “We are continually striving to make good, better and to make better, the best.” So go and visit Gray Elementary—and experience the excitement for yourself!#
125 Stewart Avenue
Gray, GA 31032