Second part of a series

Sandwiched between a former gas station turned into a machine shop and an abandoned church, lies a success story for the area and the students it serves – Lakewood Elementary School.

Located off 6th St. South on the south side of St. Petersburg, Lakewood shares the same barriers as the surrounding community. The school has partnered with Learning Sciences International (LSI) to help with its turnaround, and according to statistics provided by LSI, approximately 5,000 crimes were committed within a three-mile radius of Lakewood last year. Out of a student population of 379, 89% are minorities, 82% are economically disadvantaged, 15% are homeless or in foster care, and 100% of the student body is enrolled in free or reduced meal programs.

Former Lakewood principal and current area superintendent, Stephanie Woodford, on Friday led a group of principals on a behind-the-scenes tour of the school and the processes that took it from an “F” grade. To an “A” grade in just three years. – most of which took place during a pandemic. The school was bright and open with welcoming courtyards, and colorful murals adorn many exterior walls. All of the classrooms the group entered were similar – the students were enthusiastic about learning, the progress and data charts mixed with other wall decorations, and the kids were apparently delighted that guests had come to see them, them and their school.

Woodford, who now oversees 30 schools as a regional superintendent, has taken many principals in and out of the district on these tours. She has guided local politicians and anyone interested in learning more about the school or its rapid rise from an ‘F’ to an ‘A’ because she thinks seeing how the process works is more informative than seeing how the process works. hear talking.

“I really think you have to see it,” Woodford told the Catalyst. “It’s one thing to talk about it, but it’s another to walk around the rooms. When you leave, we really want you to feel school – not just hear about school. “

Student data and analytics are central to Lakewood’s new success and in Woodford’s first year as manager, 25 new staff were recruited to participate in the new process and the extra work. Woodford said that “it made the biggest difference – the right staff at the school”.

Brittany Duquaine and her freshman class were one example.

Duquaine said she analyzes each student’s learning data individually, then tailors lesson plans for each student accordingly. Each student has a workbook where she stores this information, and Duquaine’s walls are also covered with this data and student progress. This lets children know where they and their classmates are, and what areas they need to improve. Accountability is another theme that permeated Lakewood’s turnaround.

Student data graces Ms. Duquaine’s first grade class. Tracking student progress and analyzing data is at the heart of Lakewood’s turnaround.

“Everything is exactly what every child needs to move them because no child is exactly the same,” said Duquaine. “It works. It might take a second when you do it for the first time, but they’ll use it all year round.

Woodford told visiting principals that they should take the same approach with their teachers that Duquaine did with his students. It means getting to know them and spending time with the teachers one on one to find out their needs. “But you can’t do that from the office,” added Woodward.

“They (the teachers) want you in their room,” she said. “They want you to see what they’re doing; they want you to celebrate. This motivates the extra work.

Woodford said Duquaine rarely had behavioral issues because of the structure she had in place and the students “want to be in her room.” Woodford pointed out that Duquaine was spending one-on-one time with a student (“she never misses that,” Woodford said) when the group arrived. Combine needs-based individual learning without neglecting the teaching of base was also central to Lakewood’s new success.

“Everyone’s on the move,” said Woodford. “She doesn’t just focus on who’s behind – but she knows who she needs to work with on that.”

Tuesday: Part Three – the conclusion of our inner look at Lakewood Elementary.

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