American Immersion middle school. One of these themes focused on the school as a special place because of its cultural orientation. A second was that because of this cultural orientation this school would attend more closely to the specific needs of poor African American children. However, a third theme emerged toward the end of this period. This was an increasing sense of frustration that the school was not fulfilling its mission.
In summary, our portrait of the African American Immersion middle school shows a school where the attempt to implement an African-centered educational model was beset with problems. Some of the challenges originated within the school as a result of tensions between staff and administrators or among staff. Others came from the district administration and the School Board. These problems made it difficult for the school to develop a clear shared vision of what an African-centered model at the middle school level could look like. These issues also prevented the school from successfully establishing some of the foundations necessary to be effective for middle school students generally. Despite these repeated setbacks, however, some teachers expressed optimism for what a school of this type could accomplish. Throughout the initial five years encompassing the period of our study, staff persisted in their belief that an African-centered schooling experience had positive potential for these students.