Governor Carney visits Fred Douglass Elementary School

By Scott Bleile

On Tuesday, May 2, Delaware Governor John Carney and Delaware Secretary of Education Susan Bunting paid a visit to Fred Douglass Elementary School to talk with the principal and staff about the improvement made by the students during the school year.

Governor Carney and Secretary Bunting were met by 4th grade student ambassadors Omari Nichols and Sydney Ockels, who escorted Governor Carney to a conference room along with Fred Douglass Principal Carol Leveillee, Seaford Superintendent David Perrington, school board president Mike Craft and board members David Tull, Jeffery Benson and Kimberly Hopkins. Also attending were Seaford Administrators Duncan Smith, Chester Cox, Dr. Cory Miklus, and Dr. Sharon DiGirolamo.

Governor Carney visited Fred Douglass because of Teacher Appreciation Week, in order to show his appreciation to the teachers and all they do for the students at Fred Douglass, and to congratulate Fred Douglass for being ranked in the top 10 in the State of Delaware schools for their growth on the Smarter Reading and Math State Assessments in 2016. Fred was one of three schools in Delaware (Blades Elementary and West Seaford Elementary were the other two) that rank among the highest 20% of schools based on percent of low income students, was in the top 20% in student growth in ELA on Smarter and was in the top 20% in student growth in Math on Smarter.

I am so very impressed with this school, Carney said during his visit. I could tell from the moment I walked into this school, they were doing the right things. It is clean, orderly, and bright and the students are fully engaged in what they are doing.

Carney, along with the board members and administrators, listened to Principal Leveillee explain what the school has done to get the huge improvement in scores.

We want the students to be fully engaged in the classroom, explained Leveillee. We have changed the idea of it being my kids to it being our kids. This change in ideas has led to greater accomplishment in the classrooms. When we did this we came together as one. We have changed staff who did not buy into the program and now have a staff that is fully on board with what we want the students to do each day. Governor Carney asked, How do you get the good staff to get on board? Perrington told the governor, We look to replace teachers that have left for one reason or another with new staff that wants to be involved with what we do in this school. It is important for the staff to buy in so that the kids will follow. Board President Kraft added, Great leadership makes a good staff.

The Governor visited several 4th grade classrooms to see how the students were engaged in the lessons being taught. It is good to see the children engaged and asking questions in the class. I have visited many schools so far in the state and this is one of the best I have seen. We need to replicate this model all over the state. This works and we need other schools to see how Fred Douglass is making these improvements.

Being ranked in the top 10 in the state is a big accomplishment for this school, stated Leveillee. We were labeled a FOCUS Plus school which is bad, we are now ahead of our targets and hope to have the FOCUS label removed after this year. We have surpassed every category for the 17-18 school year. The data shows that the hard work our staff does is working and the Governor is proud of what we have accomplished at our school.

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