Sunday, May 20, 2018
Education

New fundamental school program at Gibbs High takes stock

ST. PETERSBURG — The motto "Cooperate, collaborate and graduate on time" is becoming gospel to students in the new "school-within-a-school" fundamental program at Gibbs High School.

"We have a cohort of students all in one class and it helps us to learn better together," said Gloria Lockhart, 15, one of two dozen freshmen in the first of what Gibbs officials hope will be many fundamental classes to come.

To mark the halfway point of the program's inaugural year, the school celebrated its partnership Wednesday with United Healthcare, which has helped in the venture. Students gathered in the media center between classes to meet with United executives as well as representatives from the Pinellas County School District and the city of St. Petersburg.

Afterward, students received "Gibbs High School Fundamental" yellow polo shirts along with goodie bags from United.

To start the program, the school selected 25 students based on good behavior records in middle school and low FCAT scores. The class has shrunk to 23 students since the beginning of the year. But the students stick together, attending half their classes, including English and science, as a group.

Administrators keep a close eye on their grades, attendance and behavior. They also plan field trips and guest speakers to keep kids motivated.

"We basically are their parents" during the school day, said ninth-grade assistant principal Larry Balduff, who also oversees the fundamental program. "We want to make sure we sponsor them any way we can."

It is similar to school-within-a-school fundamental programs currently recognized by the district at Boca Ciega and Dunedin high schools. Those programs focus on student responsibility and discipline, daily homework, a stricter dress code and required parent attendance at conferences and monthly meetings.

Until Gibbs' program is approved by the district, the goal for now is to motivate students to improve their overall academic performance and graduate on time.

With a few exceptions, Gibbs' fundamental students have grade-point averages above 2.0 — higher than most of the traditional freshmen at the school, Balduff said.

"We want to make sure it's not a 'have-to' with these kids," he said. "It's a 'want-to.' "

School-within-a-school coordinator Donald Johnson says he sees the students steadily improving during his seventh-period freshman experience class. Every Thursday, class members log their grades to track their progress.

The class goal is for each student to enroll in one or two Advanced Placement or honors classes next year, when they are sophomores.

"This is a group of students who actually want to be successful," he said. "They want more than what they have now."

Next year, the school plans to bring in 50 students for the freshman fundamental program, adding 25 to each class every year until there are 400 students in all four grades.

Lockhart, who aspires to be a pediatrician, said her mom motivated her to join the program. She came to Gibbs from the science and technology magnet at Bay Point Middle School. She has always had good grades but struggles in math. When asked if the fundamental program has helped her, she shrugged and smiled.

"A little," she said. "Geometry is hard."

Colleen Wright can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8913. Follow @Colleen_Wright on Twitter.

 
Comments
At vigil, another school mourns: ‘It is hope in the face of tragedy that brings us together today.’

At vigil, another school mourns: ‘It is hope in the face of tragedy that brings us together today.’

SANTA FE, Texas - They gathered here by the dozens Friday evening, wearing their school colors, T-shirts that said "Texas Tough," while huddling under the shade of a gaggle of pine trees, not 11 hours after the first shots were fired.They came to pra...
Published: 05/19/18
‘I always felt it would eventually happen here’: A Santa Fe High School survivor’s reaction to the shooting

‘I always felt it would eventually happen here’: A Santa Fe High School survivor’s reaction to the shooting

Paige Curry tried to keep calm Friday morning as a gunman tore through her Santa Fe High School, eventually killing 10 people and injuring another 10. The 17-year-old watched as a girl nearby panicked. Curry, herself terrified, considered running out...
Published: 05/19/18
Class of 2018: Meet the valedictorians and salutatorians for Pinellas private high schools

Class of 2018: Meet the valedictorians and salutatorians for Pinellas private high schools

Before they could get away, we asked the top graduates at Pinellas County’s private schools to write a Twitter-length paragraph about what’s on their mind. We suggested they reflect on the past or the future, or talk about the people who helped them ...
Published: 05/18/18
Class of 2018: TBT’s Anita Morgan rises above abuse to thrive

Class of 2018: TBT’s Anita Morgan rises above abuse to thrive

TAMPA — For those who fear there is no hope, or help, or heart left in this world, there is the story of Anita Morgan.There are any number of life-wrenching places to begin …In the middle of the night, in the back of a police car, cruising over the b...
Published: 05/18/18
Class of 2018: TBT’s Anita Morgan rises above abuse to thrive

Class of 2018: TBT’s Anita Morgan rises above abuse to thrive

TAMPA — For those who fear there is no hope, or help, or heart left in this world, there is the story of Anita Morgan.There are any number of life-wrenching places to begin …In the middle of the night, in the back of a police car, cruising over the b...
Published: 05/17/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Florida teacher accused of drowning raccoons in class placed on leave

Florida teacher accused of drowning raccoons in class placed on leave

A Florida teacher was placed on administrative leave after school officials were told that he had students help him drown wild raccoons during class.A 14-second video published by CBS affiliate WKMG showed a group of students filling a tub of water u...
Published: 05/17/18
The US spends less on children than almost any other developed nation

The US spends less on children than almost any other developed nation

The federal government now spends less than it did about 30 years ago on some of the country’s poorest children, the result of cuts to federal welfare programs, according to a new research paper.In 1990, the government spent about $8,700 on every chi...
Published: 05/17/18
Two gifts on graduation day: white Crocs, and a lesson that ‘it can’t hurt to ask’

Two gifts on graduation day: white Crocs, and a lesson that ‘it can’t hurt to ask’

ST. PETERSBURG — Sarah Agee and her friends never pictured themselves wearing Crocs to their graduation. But the foam shoes were comfortable, offered better footing than heels, and now the Seminole High seniors had a story to tell.It all started a li...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/17/18
Romano: Instead of securing schools, lawmakers saved themselves

Romano: Instead of securing schools, lawmakers saved themselves

I said it two months ago, and it’s only become more obvious since then:The bipartisan school safety proposal passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor had more to do with protecting the rear ends of politicians than the lives of students.I...
Published: 05/16/18
High school graduations begin today across Tampa Bay

High school graduations begin today across Tampa Bay

Put on your gowns. Get in line. Cue Pomp and Circumstance .Tampa Bay’s high school graduation season begins in earnest today, with ceremonies for four schools planned at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. Lakewood High will go first at 8:30 a.m., fol...
Published: 05/16/18