TBON: Winchester School - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Joe Birch

TBON: Winchester School

The secret ingredient for success at a once failing Memphis City School turns out to be love.

A spirit of nurturing love and sense that someone cares has helped Winchester Elementary make a dramatic turn around.

When children walk home from Winchester Elementary, they are escorted all the way to their apartment complex by teachers and staff.  
"They make sure they get across the street safe and I really like that," parent Akena Byrd said.

Winchester, once riddled with bullet holes, was placed on the state's high priority list for low performing schools in 2004. A "fresh start" brought new principal Flora Childres who hired an entirely new staff.

In just four years, Winchester has become a model of excellence.

Debra Martin said students sense a nurturing spirit.

"We do have staff members and we do have teachers who really care about students. We're doing assessments and we're looking at students and looking at students individually, seeing where they need to grow and we're actually teaching students based on their needs and helping students to achieve," assistant principal Debra Martin said.

98 percent of the children qualify for the free breakfast and lunch programs.

The school also addresses the educational needs of parents the last Wednesday of each month.

The latest was a literacy program for parents.

Other seminars for parents have focused on parenting and finances. The whole goal is to give children all the means of success available, even if it means schooling parents.
"We provide the with food, love reassurance, nurturing to make sure that every child is successful," math coach Ramon Arnold said.

 When Winchester was failing, it had 400 students and a highly mobile student body.

As Winchester has made its remarkable comeback. It has 611 students, a stable student body and a waiting list, too.

Memphis City Schools calls Winchester the hub of the community in the so-called Canada Gardens neighborhood and there's little doubt improvements at the school spilled out into the neighborhood.

Click here to e-mail Joe Birch.

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