Moody outlines plans to help at-risk students to local NAACP

Rock Hill schools Superintendent Lynn Moody Sunday night outlined a spectrum of education programs planned for so-called at-risk children to members of the NAACP and asked for their help.

About 50 people turned out at the meeting of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People at Freedom Temple to learn about before- and after-school and Saturday programs, single-gender classes and more for students who do not score well on tests.

Both locally and nationally, a large percentage of students who do not test well come from families in poverty. One of the groups the district deems most at-risk is black males, also locally and nationally, she said.

"Fifty-eight percent of African-American males at one of our high schools passed Algebra I," Moody said. "Without passing that, they can't pass the Exit Exam (required in this state to graduate high school.)"

One option the district proposes is a single-gender class in Algebra for males at South Pointe High School, she said.

Other plans at Rock Hill schools, she said, include:

• A one-on-one mentoring program for at-risk children that will begin with six elementary schools; Moody will recommend at tonight's meeting that the school board hire a mentor coordinator.

• Two additional teachers in English and math at the Phoenix Academy alternative school.

• Eight teachers to accelerate education for overage children in the eighth grade; "They tend to drop out of school when they turn 16," she said, "and many of them are African-American males."

• Two additional teachers for early morning and late afternoon tutoring in English and math.

• An academic coach for at-risk teens at each of the high schools.

• Saturday classes for some children in grades three through five.

• A plan is in the works to provide parents with weekly information explaining what their children are studying and providing tips on how to reinforce what's going on in class.

• Poverty diversity training is being instituted throughout the district.

• A team from a successful California charter school for students who have been expelled will come to Rock Hill to train district leaders on starting one here; "One thing we don't want is bad students and bad teachers in the same school," she said.

• A consultant will arrive soon to help district educators pinpoint specific problems based on test data.

District officials will hold focus groups with local church leaders for assistance in providing space and transportation for these programs, she said.

She also called on the parents to help.

"Children with a low vocabulary don't do as well in school," she said. "They need human contact. They need to be held, loved and talked to."

She also urged parents to "take them places and see things," to support school administrators, to provide extended tutoring and to join their School Improvement Council.

She said that despite the fact that growing children need eight hours of sleep, many arrive at school half asleep because they did not go to bed until after midnight.

"Put your children to bed," she urged.

Moody also asked members of the NAACP to make their voices heard at upcoming public hearings on school boundary redistricting to accommodate new elementary and middle schools and lack of balance in high school attendance.

"The board agrees that balance (diversity) is important to education," she said. "There is a lot of pressure on the board to discontinue that. Board members hear from people who have resources. You need to balance that. Be at that hearing."

When Moody departed, the Rev. Herb Crump, president of the Rock Hill NAACP chapter, also asked NAACP members to do their part as parents.

"We can't put the responsibility of parenting on our teachers," he said. "As parents, we should know what's in our children's bookbags. There's no reason your child should have a weapon in school and you don't know it. We should know what the dress code is and when meetings are being held. It's not the teacher's responsibility to make sure our children get eight hours of sleep each night."