Shanks School Makeover

A Community Conversation = A School Makeover in Gadsden

Teachers and students are starting the school year with freshly painted classrooms and hallway floors that have been mopped and polished. The gym is sparkling, and the cafeteria looks great



See pictures from the Shanks Makeover


The first day of the school is always exciting as everyone catches up on summer events.
But when teachers, students, and parents returned to Gadsden county's Shanks Middle School this year...the conversation turned to Shanks and its the new look...


"Wow it is fantastic. It is great to see the changes", commented Beth Perkins as she inspected a co-workers classrooom. Her colleague, Traci Walker,  didn't mind. She was also surprised.

"When I first walked on campus I saw the newly planted trees and a more inviting atmosphere, more relaxed. It kind of got me excited and ready to start the new year."


Teachers and students are starting the school year with freshly painted classrooms and hallway floors that have been mopped and polished. The gym is sparkling, and the cafeteria looks great. James A. Shanks is an older school and after several years of neglect, it has finally started to get the attention it desperately needs.

Beth Perkins is anxious to see how her class will react.

"I think it is going to make students step back and take a look. You know when things are clean, neat and pretty it makes you want to do better..and I am hoping this will instill pride in students for their school and themselves so they contiue to want to be excellent."


This summer Shanks underwent a mini makeover thanks to Members of the Coalition for Change, a group of Gadsden neighbors who want to make a difference in their community. They organized the school makeover after attending a Community Conversation on Closing the Acheivement Gaps among Gadsden youths..




The Community Conversation was sponsored by the Gadsden County Classroom Teachers Association, FEA, Gadsden School District and others, in an effort to engage community stakeholders in education issues. The Gadsden County School district may have one more year to improve FCAT scores and make AYP across the board. If the county fails to make AYP, the Florida Department of Education could assume management of the entire school system.

But Shanks may be on the move. Last year, it was a "C" school after years of being graded a "D" school.
Superientendent Reginald James says the coalition efforts have elevated the level of importance of education and heighten expectations for everyone.


"We talk about getting involved but that is what they have done. they haven't just talked about it. They have done it and they are making a difference at Shanks. And it is not the paint or the shiny hallways. It is the fact that someone cares. That is the most important part "


And Shanks' new principal Juanita Ellis is confident this is the first step to improving academic acheivement under her watch.


"What they have done here as you can see...they have helped to create an environment that we feel will inspire these students to acheive."


Monica Smart _


Coalition member, Monica Smart is a parent, and former Shanks graduate. She says no one knew what to do about Shanks, but she says the community conversation brought everyone together, and the project reminded them it is time to reclaim their neighborhood school.


"People have not forgotten that we have to give back. it is more than my child goes to this school and I need to do what I can but if we come together as a community we can accomplish alot."


Jennifer Mirage agrees and pitched in for weeks working on the grounds.


"Everybody in the community, I think if we all gave just a little bit...We're not talking everyday of the year, but if you came out to paint one weekend it would make a huge difference and I think it make a huge difference to the kids to see their parents, grandparents and neighbors involved and they think that is kind of worth doing."


But Coalition organizer Rick Soskis is quick to remind everyone .. The real work is still ahead.




"This is simply aesthetically.. it is more fun to see a nice looking campus...but its part of the whole package of attracting attention to the problem of getting parents to come out of their homes to get involved ....and together and sit down with their children, and everybody... grandparents, neighbors to talk about and stress how important education is.."


See how the community is making a difference in Gadsden county. Get involved and participate in the Gadsden Community Conversation 2-Closing the Acheivement Gaps, September 10, 2009, Shanks Middle School, in Quincy, FL. The conversation begins at 6 pm. 

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