Community should help Cook rise from the bottom

Community should help Cook rise from the bottom
August 25
06:45 2016

The start of a new year brings excitement to all those involved: students, parents and teachers. The students, parents and teachers at Cook Literacy Model School are no exception. School started a week early, on Monday, Aug, 22, with smiling faces. Those faces didn’t show the hard work ahead of them.

The school, as Cook Elementary School, was at the bottom in the state’s eyes. North Carolina education officials said most of the students couldn’t read. So now Cook has come to this. It has a new name, among other things.

In February, school board members informed parents that the school would be adopting the Restart model, which calls for an instructional overhaul and various other changes, including scheduling.

Most of the teaching staff and principal were replaced. Dr. Paula Wilkins is the new principal.

On Thursday, Aug. 18, Cook held a cookout to help students, parents and teachers get acclimated to the “new” school. Wilkins briefly spoke with The Chronicle’s editorial staff at the event. When asked how the community can become involved, she said she wants a mentor for every student at the school, all 220 or so students. She wants each mentor to spend two hours a month with the student at the school. The hours can be divided into half-hour increments during the month.

It’s unclear if that’s what was missing with the old Cook Elementary. Why did the students perform so poorly on tests? Would mentors have improved the scores? Will mentors help Cook rise from the bottom?

Wilkins and her team have three years to rise from the bottom. She told The Chronicle two weeks ago that in order for things to change at Cook, the community must be a part of the change.

“The key to this turnaround is letting the community in. The walls of this building don’t have the capacity to do the turnaround and impact the lives of these children. But this community has the access to do it.

“We have to wrap our arms around everyone who is willing to do this work with us.”

Community members need to help in any way they can, to help young people excel and to help Winston-Salem rise. The health of our schools reflects the health of the city. Schools attract families, who need housing and jobs. Realtors and companies look at the communities they are looking to sell houses in, or move to or expand in to ask “What is the state of the schools?” to help them make decisions. The state of the schools in an area is important to the economy of the area.

Wilkins, the head of the Cook ship, has a strategy to succeed using mentors. Let’s help her guide the ship to success so that she and her crew won’t be thrown overboard.

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Donna Rogers

Donna Rogers

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