Nearly 80 percent of Pipkin students qualify for free or reduced lunches and "many of them have no idea that college is even a possibility for them."
After 33 years in teaching and school administration, Pipkin Middle School Principal Dr. Sharri Harwick has seen all the angles - and still keeps her focus. That's why she and the teachers at Pipkin joined Drury and the Springfield Public School system in the School Development Program.
"Our overall goal," says Harwick, "is to increase learning for the kids." To that end, 20 of Harwick's teachers have traveled to Yale University for special training. At least 18 have enrolled in Drury's master in education program. Harwick's staff also has attended data analysis training sessions at Drury to help them better recognize student strengths and weaknesses and implement that information in lesson planning.
This support translates into teacher excitement and an increased willingness to invest emotionally, key factors in a vastly improved climate at Pipkin. Student test scores are climbing, attendance is up, and suspensions are down 50 percent. Even more encouraging, Harwick notes, is that students "are getting exposed to a lot of opportunities that otherwise would never happen." Pipkin and Drury students are teaming up on after-school science projects that give kids hands-on lab experience. They also have the opportunity to "shadow" Drury students on campus, attending classes and sharing lunch.
Nearly 80 percent of Pipkin students qualify for free or reduced lunches, Harwick notes, and "many of them have no idea that college is even a possibility for them." But the School Development Program is opening doors. In the summer of 2001, four students traveled to Washington, D.C. and spoke at a Yale-sponsored conference on educational reform. Harwick says the students "really experienced growth in their speaking skills." People at the conference noted the children's growing self-confidence even over the meeting's three-day span.
While the partnership affords benefits for teachers and schools, when asked who benefits most, Harwick says unequivocally that she hopes it's the kids. After all, she says, "that's the point."
|PIPKIN MIDDLE SCHOOL|