Main Street Academy staff overwhelmed by challenges transitioning to new location

Main Street Academy students are currently attending school at the Family Life Enrichmet Center located at St. Peter’s World Outreach Center’s campus.

Main Street Academy staff overwhelmed by challenges transitioning to new location
September 08
13:47 2023

It’s not uncommon for teachers and other educators to face a few challenges during the first week of school, minor things like schedule changes or technical glitches, but the staff at Main Street Academy is dealing with a lot more than that. 

Here’s what we know: After discussing the matter for months, in May the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools (WS/FCS) Board of Education approved a motion to relocate Philo-Hill Middle School to Main Street Academy, 2700 South Main Street, for the next 18 months, while renovations are being made at Philo-Hill, 410 Haverhill St. The project, which was included in the 2016 bond referendum, includes three additional classrooms and a new media room, as well as renovations to the kitchen and front entrance of the building. 

While the motion approved by the board solidified the future for Philo-Hill, the future of Main Street was still up in the air. Early in the process there were talks about housing Main Street and Philo-Hill together, but it was recommended not to mix students from the two schools.  

Main Street Academy serves middle and high school students who have been suspended or expelled from their home school. Students are assigned by the office of the superintendent. Students have an opportunity to return to their home school provided all requirements are met by the student and family. 

The district didn’t make a decision on where to move Main Street until late July, when they decided to move the school to the Family Life Enrichment Center at St. Peter’s World Outreach Center, 3683 Old Lexington Road. 

The board approved the 18-month, $760,500 lease by a vote of 6-3. In 2018 the Family Life Enrichment Center housed the Blue-Green Academy, a charter school that had the capability to hold up to 150 students. 

Although the lease was approved during a special meeting held on July 31, faculty and staff from Main Street were not allowed inside the Family Life Enrichment Center until August 17, less than two weeks before the first day of school. Once inside the building, instead of preparing their lesson plans and other material for the start of the school year, teachers, administrators and other staff from Main Street were faced with the daunting task of moving furniture to classrooms. 

In fact, while teachers and staff from every other school in the district had the luxury to attend the annual Back To School Celebration held at Bowman Gray Stadium on Aug. 24, the entire Main Street staff was busy moving dozens of boxes, file cabinets, desks and other items out of the hallways and into classrooms. A member of the Main Street staff said, “It’s literally been all hands on deck trying to get everything in place.

“It’s a nice facility, it just does not give us what we need.”

According to our sources, none of the classrooms have working phones. Instead, a handful of walkie talkies have been assigned to TA’s (Teacher Assistants) that float throughout the building during the day. Currently, Main Street isn’t connected to the WS/FCS internet server. Instead, faculty, staff, and students have to rely on the Wi-Fi and internet service made available by St. Peter’s. 

In some cases, teachers have to share classrooms. Large gray partitions that don’t extend to the ceiling or the length of the wall are being used to separate the two classes. 

When asked about the situation at Main Street, Brent Campbell, WS/FCS chief marketing & communications officer, said none of the issues at Main Street would impede teachers from teaching and students from learning. 

But that wasn’t the case when the students enrolled at Main Street showed up on Aug. 28, the first day of school. 

The first two days of school students spent most of the day in the gym with TAs and other staff, while most of the teachers continued to get their classrooms and lesson plans in order. 

Equity and access are a major part of the district’s strategic plan. The district website reads, “WS/FCS will ensure equal and equitable access to quality instruction and strive to eliminate barriers to rigorous and diverse opportunities. WS/FCS will provide quality instructional facilities and learning environments for all students.” 

But nothing has been equitable about the situation at Main Street.

Despite having to overcome some major hurdles to start the school year, the Main Street staff are making the best out of a bad situation. Everyone has been working together to ensure the students have what they need to be successful. 

“My colleagues and my administration are so resilient; what you see is miraculous,” said a member of the Main Street staff. “It’s a lot better than it was.”  

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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