ST. PETERSBURG — The Carter G. Woodson African American History Museum celebrated “Black to School” by honoring the largest class of African-American principals in Pinellas County School’s history last Sunday afternoon.
Pinellas County Schools Superintendent Dr. Michael Grego and other top-county administrators attended the event to recognize the growth of diversity in school leadership.
“It’s all about growing greatness in all our students,” said Grego.
Grego shared that approximately 17,000 Pinellas County students enrolled in the Summer Bridge program this year to improve in mathematics, reading and reading comprehension. This is the largest number of participants in the history of the program.
“The greatest thing is we’re seeing results. We’re seeing a reduction in Level 1-the lowest level— of struggling students and an increase in the higher levels throughout our district.”
Attaining higher levels of success means keeping students engaged year round.
“Schooling can no longer be just 180 days a year. The year round Extended Learning Program is in every school now, elementary, middle and high school,” he said.
Grego also gave credit to the faith-based community for stepping up their efforts to provide additional assistance to students who need help, and to increased parental involvement.
Educator Denise Ford commented on what the School Board is doing to pave the way for increased student success in the classroom.
“I’m looking forward to the Bridging the Gap Plan that was approached this past season, and I’m hoping the opportunity for African Americans to attend our fundamental schools and our magnet schools will increase,” said Ford.
The Bridging the Gap Plan has seven components that promise the acceleration of African-American graduation rates by 1.8 percent greater or faster than the rest of the district in order to close the gap. If the plan is successful, the achievement gap between black and white students will be eliminated within 10 years.
Part of the plan includes a personalized learning strategy to best meet the needs of individual students, a district commitment to restorative disciplinary practices, a culturally relevant curriculum and a targeted plan to recruit and hire a diverse teaching staff.
Having a record number of well-equipped African-American principals in the mix will give a cultural, educational and community spirit boost towards higher levels of success for students of color.
“I will work until my last breath to ensure all students have what resources they need to achieve success in our schools,” said Grego to the 12 principals and assistant principals present.
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