Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Schools Accepting No Excuses Program Recognized for Helping Educate Poor

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Schools Accepting No Excuses Program Recognized for Helping Educate Poor

Article excerpt

ATLANTA -- Barrow Elementary School students aren't allowed to make excuses for poor academic performance. They can't blame poverty, parents or uncaring teachers.

Principal Barbara Wright sees to it personally.

She and her staff were among 37 Georgia schools honored yesterday for ensuring high-poverty students received a high-quality education.

The Georgia Public Policy Foundation hosted the award ceremony and conference to discuss methods of teaching poor children who are typically underserved in public schools.

"In the last five years we have had to really look at our teaching methods," said Wright, who received the school's award yesterday from Gov. Roy Barnes. "I have set expectations for [each teacher to] try to acknowledge every child as an individual. We didn't want kids slipping through the cracks."

About 60 percent of the children at Barrow Elementary receive free or reduced-cost school lunches -- a traditional benchmark for household income.

"We try to be connected with the kids and make up for what they might be missing at home," she said.

That philosophy, dubbed "No Excuses" by educators, has become the mantra for those dedicated to delivering better education to the poor.

"A lot of children from impoverished backgrounds don't have the same experiences as others when it comes to reading and learning," said Natalie Hicks, a first-grade teacher at Barrow. "Everybody [at Barrow] comes together in the classroom to make sure each child gets the nurturing they might not have at home."

She said her co-workers are encouraged to find teaching methods that get results, adding that the staff works in collaborative teams.

"Teaching is too demanding a job to close yourself off in your classroom," Hicks said. "We just see everything as an opportunity to teach kids, and that takes a lot of risk from the teachers."

The school has also coached parents, regardless of educational background, to help their students with homework and reading. …

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