KCK School Goes From Worst to First

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- A KCK school has gone from being one of the worst in the state to one of the best. It's a transformation that has other struggling schools asking how they did it?

In 2011, Emerson was ranked at the very bottom. They were the lowest performing elementary school in Kansas. Now, it's in the top 10 percent of title one schools in the state. It's also serving as a model for others with failing grades.

$3 million and three years later, Emerson Elementary is making the grade.

"We have made some incredible academic progress in just two short years and all the credit goes to  my teaching staff," said principal Brett Bernard.

In 2010, in exchange for a $3 million federal grant, all teachers and staff were told they could re-apply for their jobs or transfer. About half of the staff left.

"It gave us a chance to rejuvenate the school, bring in a new chemistry with teachers and the staff and the principal, and you know with an office staff rejuvenation time a chance to start over and give us a fresh start," principal Bernard said.

New teachers were hired but Lynn Salisbury stayed. She's taught at the school for 23 years.

"It was scary to hear your school is going to change and your staff it going to change and it was scary but we embraced it and went forward and it's just been great," said teacher Lynn Salisbury.

Looking at Emerson's latest report card it shows change is working. The math scores are up 20 percent. Reading scores are up by 40 percent. Classrooms have new technology and there are hundreds of new books. Students stay late and worth with tutors and parents are more engaged. Salisbury says other schools can do it too.

"Don't be afraid because change is good, change is hard, but just know that you can do it and all kids can learn and together you can make a difference," Salisbury said.

The progress being made at the school caught the attention of the White House. In August, principal Bernard and Mrs. Salisbury were among four people from Emerson who went to Washington, D.C. They were invited to the White House to share what they've done to turn around the school.

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1 Comment

  • Jill

    It sounds like they worked really hard. So why are they removing this principle that has done a great job against his will and the will of the neighborhood and the will of the staff? Just a huge question