Allen Middle School to get fresh start

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- A Guilford County Middle School will undergo a major reorganization in staff and administration following concerns about academic performance.

Allen Middle School has struggled with student performance and teacher morale in recent years, prompting the school board to make changes for next year.

Antoinette Barnes' son is supposed to start sixth grade at Allen Middle School in August.

"I'm trying to move [apartments] in July before August so he can not go to Allen," she admitted.

Barnes is concerned with academics and behavior problems at the school.

"We knew we needed to do something drastically different," said Central Division Superintendent Dr. Terry Worrell. "We absolutely did not see the type of growth that we needed to see, so we recommended to the board that we reconstitute the school."

A reconstitution of the school means a new principal, Dr. Sheila Gorham, will come in and rehire every position at Allen Middle.

"From custodians to assistants, teachers and office workers," added Dr. Worrell.

She said the Board of Education recognized the need to move in now so the state would not have to take action later.

"It's absolutely like we're opening a new school," Dr. Worrell pointed out.

According to the school's most recent improvement plan, a survey said only 58% of teachers thought Allen was a good place to work and learn.

Current teachers and staff will have the option to re-apply for their positions at Allen or to other positions in the County. They may or may not be rehired at the school. Dr. Worrell assured, "Teachers with tenure will be rehired at Allen or somewhere else in Guilford County Schools."

"We expect excellence of the students," she continued. "And we expect excellence from the teachers and staff. From all of us."

Parent Kelly Spann saw similar changes at Eastern Guilford High School this year with a new principal and new staff members.

"Trust the change," she advised Allen Midle parents. "Because it will make a difference! Just within this year we've seen a huge change."

They believe, in this case, change can be good.

"That does let me know somebody cares," said Barnes, who is now reconsidering moving out of the Allen district. "Somebody cares enough to go in and change the school. That's a start."

Dr. Worrell said Allen students will go back to school 10 days early next school year to allow for more instructional time. Teachers will have five additional resource days and an incentives program offering bonuses for improved performance.

The new principal, Dr. Gorham, was available to meet parents Monday night at a meeting at Allen. There will be another parent meeting next Tuesday, May 28 at 6 p.m. at the school.

Dr. Gorham will be evaluating current teachers at the end of this school year, and considering who she wants to hire for next year. She is currently the principal of Wiley Elementary School.

Wiley Elementary and Oak Hill Elementary were both reconstituted in Guilford County; Dr. Worrell said both schools immediately had significant academic improvements.