Alabama's official test-score release date was August 8 this year, and I arrived at school around 6:40 a.m. because FOX SIX News was going to come to our school to cover the story.
I cannot tell you how nervous and excited I felt that morning. My principal and I had analyzed the scores ourselves and were given some hints that we had met our Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) goals. But we'd been in the State School Improvement program for five straight years, and we weren't going to stop holding our breath until we saw the AYP report on paper.
The reporter did a stand-up for the morning news and left. Around 9 a.m., our superintendent Dr. Phil Hammonds hand-delivered our long awaited outcome. There was stillness in the room much like the Oscars as our principal, Margie Curry, opened the envelope.
She stumbled over the results slightly when the first thing she noticed was a red bar. In our state, red cells on your AYP report mean you did not make all of your benchmarks. But a closer look told her that we had no red cells for our 17 objectives—every square was filled with a beautiful green!
She told me later that she almost had heart failure when she saw the red bar. It was actually an indication that our School Improvement status was now "delay," which means that if we can meet AYP again this year, we will no longer be counted among the state's lowest performing schools.
It's hard to describe the powerful emotions we felt when we realized that we had made AYP at last. There were immediate shouts of joy and the tears began flowing. What a contrast this was to my first faculty meeting three years ago, when Ms. Curry shared the dismal news of our making only 38% of our 2003-2004 goals. I remember seeing the gloom, concern and even anger on the teachers' faces that day. Although I was brand-new in the school, I shared the feeling of defeat. The idea of making 100% seemed an impossible task.
As the good news began to sink in, the pride in accomplishment rolled like a tidal wave throughout our school and our community. The Brighton success story was told over and over that day as reporters came throughout the morning to interview faculty, administration, and parents. Governor Bob Riley’s office called to schedule a visit on the first day of school.
The day Governor Riley came, several of us were asked to speak. As I stepped up to the microphone, I looked into the faces of many who share my dream of Brighton becoming a first class school. I also saw the faces of many others who told me it could never happen. We are not there yet, but this is a huge step. I am hear to say it can be done!
The job before us now is to truly create a school of the highest quality for Brighton’s children. Yes, there is much hard work ahead, but building on the success of the past two years is much easier than trying to build on years of failure. Our eighth grade English teacher has coined a slogan for us: “Onward ever, backward never!" The impossible has become possible.