Verona school recognized for progress

VERONA – Verona Elementary school Principal Temeka Shannon knows that she and her staff have a lot of work ahead of them. But she also took time last week to reflect on how far the school has come over the last four years.
Verona was recently named a 2009 Title 1 Distinguished School by the Mississippi Department of Education and former state Superintendent of Education Hank Bounds. The distinction recognizes the school’s commitment to closing achievement gaps between student groups.
“We’re very proud,” Lee County Schools Superintendent Mike Scott said. “The administration and the staff have worked very hard, and it looks like they’ve developed into a top notch team. We expect even more, and we know they do too.”
The recognition comes four years after Verona failed to meet federal Adequate Yearly Progress standards in 2005, Shannon’s second year at the school. They’ve met those requirements every year since.
Verona’s honor came with a $9,000 check from the state. Shannon said the school has already spent that money to improve student achievement. It bought workbooks for second- to fourth-graders, brought in a new language arts consultant for second- to fourth-graders and paid for its math consultant to spend more days at the school.
“Had we not received that extra money, we probably would have had to re-budget our finances based on our Title 1 plan to get those purchases in,” Shannon said. “Because we got this free money, we did not have to do any of that.”
Shannon credited her staff for the school’s success. She said the school has an on-site reading coach who works with other teachers for professional development, a reading-success program that targets students who are dyslexic or show dyslexic-like symptoms and interventionists who work with struggling students.
The school has also increased its emphasis on data and closely monitors the progress of students who are below grade level.
“As long as the staff is committed to growing, learning and increasing student achievement,” Shannon said, “we’ll get another award.”

Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or chris.kieffer@djournal.com

Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal