Westside was chosen by the Georgia Schools of Excellence program based upon their steady and continual improvement in reading and math scores over the last three years.
Chalk up the honor to Westside’s special after-school programs and child-centered reading initiatives, but, said interim principal Brenda Morris - don’t forget about the teachers.
As one of only nine other schools to be selected for this honor, the teachers and staff at Westside Elementary couldn’t be more excited.
Morris learned of the honor Thursday afternoon. “I am so excited to hear about this,” she said. “As soon as I found out, I got on the horn and praised all my teachers. We couldn’t have done this without them.”
Morris, who was a teacher at Westside for 15 years, said her staff goes above and beyond the call of duty.
“They all work together as a team. They never hesitate to go that extra mile for our students.”
Recently retired Westside Principal Marshelle Thaxton couldn’t agree more.
“Mainly we should give credit to the teachers out there,” Thaxton said. “We’ve got some very talented educators and they are constantly, every day, on the battle front helping our kids.”
Besides gifted teachers, Thaxton, who served as Westside’s principal for seven years until December 2004, said that the school is able to provide extra programs to help students lagging behind in basic skills.
“The state actually started an extended-day program a few years ago. We started having one hour extra a day, Monday through Thursday, that made it possible for students to work with tutors on whatever they needed help with,” commented Thaxton.
He also mentioned summer school programs over the years that have allowed students to catch up on their studies before the new school year began.
Westside’s accelerated reading program, Thaxton said, undoubtedly had an impact on the reading scores. The reading program they’ve instituted allows students to check out books on their reading level and take quizzes over what they have comprehended from that book. Students are encouraged to read whenever they have a chance, and near the end of the school year, they are rewarded with special activities.
“The accelerated reading program is a great one,” said Polk School Superintendent Dr. Darrell Sorrells. “It really works well and is very motivational.” Sorrells also commended Westside and staff for being placed on this year’s excellent list.
“I’m just really proud of them. It’s a great accomplishment and their teachers and staff have done a great job.”