Norfolk school shows another sign of turning around

Norfolk, Va (WAVY) – At Tidewater Park Elementary School, conditional accreditation means one word – progress.

Friday, a sign outside of the Norfolk school read: We are Conditionally Accredited.

It means logistically the students have improved their test scores from last year in English, math and history, and they are exceeding state benchmarks in two other subjects.

Document: Read Tidewater Park Elementary’s report card

10 On Your Side’s Brandi Cummings asked one of the teachers at Tidewater Park, what did she think made the difference? She said there was an attitude change when the principal Dr. Sharon Philips started two years ago.

Gone are the days of one teacher standing in front of a classroom full of children all day. At Tidewater Park, the children often work in small groups and even change classes.

“We try to lean toward the research based strategies,” said Rhonda Epps, a reading specialist.

Many of those strategies were implemented under the leadership of  Philips.

“We just have to change the way in which operate depending upon the students. If you always let that guide what you’re doing, the children’s needs first, then you will make the right decisions,” Philips said.

Those decisions led to conditional accreditation approval from the State Board of Education Thursday.

Document: Read the Virginia Department of Education’s agenda (pages 18, 19 are on Tidewater)

“It just provided hope that all that we are doing to accomplish great things is starting to come together,” she said.

Just last Monday, an extended day program started. Students stay at school sometimes until 8 p.m. They get remediation, homework help, character building and team sports opportunities.

“We believe in educating the whole child,” Philips said.

While she won’t take sole credit for this progress, Phillips got emotional during an interview she was told that her teachers credit her for making the difference.

“I am that child who came from a home where people didn’t think you can excel,” she said. “I am that child that came from a school where people didn’t think you would excel. So it’s personal for me and I tend to hire people who make it personal for them.”

Right now Tidewater Park is in conditional accreditation. It has three years to make growth. If after that time frame Tidewater Park meets the state standards, the school will become fully accredited. If not, it will be in accreditation-denied status.

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