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Sunset Acres : Makes the Grade - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Sunset Acres : Makes the Grade

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By all accounts, the sun was about to set on Sunset Acres Elementary School.  It had been on the state's list of academically unacceptable schools for years.

 

"My biggest challenge, as I see it,  is making sure we have stable staff that bought into the vision," said principal Stacey Jamison.

 

 Jamison has led Sunset Acres for the past 8 years, during which she says she has had dozens of teachers walk out on her and the students here.

 

"It's the stigma that comes with working at the school, so you have to make sure you have teachers that are willing to stick around and are persistent enough and willing to dig in and stay around enough till we realize the dream, " said Jamison.

 

One of the teachers who did stick around is third grade teacher Cheryl Ellis.

"It is my duty being where I am from to teach near or in my own community,  " said Ellis.

 

It is that sense of community that Jamison says has made one of the biggest impacts on the schools. Three years ago someone from "Springs of Grace " church stopped by the school and asked if they could help Sunset Acres.

 

 Members from the church didn't want any recognition but teachers says the volunteer hours members put in at the school have been instrumental in pulling the school out of academic despair.

 

"Having them come in, work with the kids on their homework, seeing them in the hallways, it shows the kids that someone out there other than us [teachers] care about them and great things are expected of them, " said teacher Tiffany Henderson.

 

Ellis says the presence of the church members at the school is also a motivating factor for her as well.

"One those days when I am down, when I see them I know people care about me, they care about these kids, and it makes me want to do more ," said Ellis.

 

With a committed set of teachers in place, additional professional development of teachers and a number of community partners like FDDOC (Fully Devoted Developer of Children) Winners' Circle, Inc. to lean on, over a three year period test scores at Sunset inched upwards and just before the school year started , word came the school was off the list.

 

"We have been praying for years to get off of the list because we have worked hard for the last seven years," says Henderson.

Jamison says she is glad she had people who were willing to stay and stick it out and now their work as paid off.

 

 

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