Local News

Edgecombe Schools Report Improved Morale

Posted December 3, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— Three months ago, state assistance teams marched into a handful of low-performing North Carolina schools with one goal in mind, to improve education. Now, after weeks of observations and recommendations, team leaders are talking.

For three months, they've been watching our children and the teachers who educate them. Now, they're making recommendations to improve public schools and end of grade test scores. At two Edgecombe County schools, response team members say teacher turnover, unfocused energy and low expectations led to last year's poor marks.

"There were low expectations for student achievement," says Phillips team leader Carolyn Morrison, "and we're trying to encourage a raising of expectations."

Problems are on the way out, according to team leaders. At Phillips, students recently tested 18% higher in one course than they did last year. Team members say morale at all levels is improving.

"They are feeling real good right now about what they're doing, and we are extremely pleased at the way they have taken that on," Princeville team leader Elaine Jones explains. "They realized very early that there were some things they needed to adjust."

Improved morale may be the best way to overturn one of the area's most pressing problems. Counties like Edgecombe often have a tough time keeping good teachers.

"One particular class at Phillips School this year is working on its sixth teacher now and that makes it difficult to learn," says Edgecombe County Superintendent David Bryant. "We've got to be able to address that issue, and we really don't have all the answers."