Allen Middle School gets a fresh start with new principal

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GREENSBORO, N.C.-- Dr. Shelia Gorham is taking on a major project as the new principal at Allen Middle School in Greensboro. They are starting fresh after years of low test scores and unsatisfied teachers.

FOX8 first reported on the school's reconstitution in May.

Dr. Gorham says it's like putting together a big puzzle with a lot of new pieces.

"Everyone had to reapply. And I say everyone.. cafeteria workers, custodian workers, teachers, administrators," she explained.

She says of the employees who wanted to stay at Allen and reapplied there, Dr. Gorham and her team hired back about 25% of them.

"It's not that they weren't good teachers or anything like that. We were just trying to find a good fit for what we needed to have happen at Allen," Dr. Gorham added. "I tell people we're not trying to fix anyone, we're just trying to move forward."

The change she's talking about includes new structure and organization, she explained, with stronger accountability and discipline. They are also adding teaching coaches for math, science and language art. In addition, her team will apply consistent standards across subjects in grade levels.

They hope all of these changes will complement a revived push for academic excellence.

One of the challenges Dr. Gorham admits she will face is earning the respect and trust of parents, many of whom had strained relationships with staff at Allen in the past.

"Once they start to see we plan to do what we said we were going to do," she continued, "We will renew their trust in us. And we will let them see they made a right decision to keep their child here."