Several years after informally incorporating ideas and practices promoting the nation-wide program, Nichols Intermediate School is officially part of the No Excuses University network, said Principal Laurie Greathouse.
“We've already been putting things into practice and focusing on the TurnAround Schools philosophy” since 2008,” she said. “Our teachers have been to conferences offered by other schools and focusing on different standards, staff collaboration and all the components that are part of developing a culture of universal achievement.”
Over the years, educators at the Nichols campus have been monitoring the levels of educational success “and when we were at a place that we felt ready, we submitted our application to join and were notified earlier this week,” Greathouse said.
On Wednesday, she shared the news with her faculty at a staff meeting.
Nichols is the third campus from Jacksonville ISD to become part of the network, said district public information officer Marc McCloud.
“West Side Elementary was the first school from the East Texas area to join, followed by Fred Douglass Elementary, which are preschool through fourth-grade programs,” he said. “TurnAround Schools is a very wonderful program that works to prepare our students at an early age to take advantage of all opportunities available for their future.”
“The program does everything possible to help ensure a student success,” she said. “It's just a systematic approach to making a program successful by a group of like-minded educators across the nation.”
No Excuses University is comprised of elementary, middle school and high schools throughout the country that actively promote a comprehensive model of college readiness, according to the program's website.
“It's about making school a positive successful place for everyone,” Greathouse said. “It's not just about promoting college, but about not making excuses, but rather, making opportunities for all students.”
Teachers at the Nichols campus have “been hugely motivated” through the program as they educate approximately 760 fifth and sixth-graders, she said.
One approach is to have each classroom represent a different college or university, and then tie different facts about that institution into the day's lesson plan.
“Even the non-teaching staff have been great about promoting and representing a different college,” she said. “We teach kids about college, but really, we are promoting a culture of universal achievement.”
Not surprisingly, “the kids just love it,” Greathouse said. “I think at this level it really enlightens the kids that it's just not about fifth or sixth grade anymore, there's an end-goal. They've learned about different schools because of what their teachers bring to the classroom. They get excited about future career choices, which in turn, helps them to become goal-setters and gives them a chance to know what they want to know later, choices about career.”
“Mostly, though,” she added, “it's getting them to see Nichols as a stepping stone for what they want to do later.”
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