04/30/06 — Parents: School deserves support as programs continue to improve

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Parents: School deserves support as programs continue to improve

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on April 30, 2006 2:02 AM

Both of Sonlita Brown's sons attend her alma mater, Goldsboro High School, which she says has served her children well.

And like her, she says they were upset by the news that Judge Howard Manning suggested that the school was on the list of 19 in the state facing possible closure because of low-performing students.

"What he's saying is going on at Goldsboro High School is just his perspective," she says now. "I have found the staff at the school to be very helpful, very receptive."

Son Jordan McIntyre, 14, a freshman, goes to the school an hour early each morning to be tutored in algebra; Earl McIntyre, 17 and a senior, stays 30 minutes after school to shore up his math scores.

"I think it's commendable that teachers would come out here before school and offer aid to kids who want to get ahead," Ms. Brown said.

She said the teachers have shown dedication to the students at the school, even if they are not assigned to do so.

"Last year, the teacher that tutored him was not even my child's teacher," she said.

The problems with Goldsboro High School are not from the school itself but the individual levels of commitment to education from those who go there, she said.

"If you put forth the effort, there are people here who are willing to help you," she said. "It's the same school it was when I came here. The only change is the students. Some students just need someone in their corner, not only on the school front but on the homefront.

"You cannot blame the school or expect the school to enforce standards that these kids aren't getting at home."

The programs are there, the people are in place, she said, adding that they are doing everything possible to help the students succeed.

"Goldsboro isn't the only school that has problems. I think it's really bad to use Goldsboro as an object of what all bad schools are like because there are great things happening at Goldsboro High," she said.

Ms. Brown said she is a frequent visitor at the school, checking on her sons, filling out college and scholarship applications. She has been saddened by the effects recent news reports have had on those affiliated with the school.

"When the article came out, my kids were hurt and they were angry that Goldsboro High School would be objectified. They're talking like nothing good can come from Goldsboro High, and they were very upset," she said.

"Kids were walking around and they were upset that Goldsboro High School was inadequate. That's not their perception. It may be the city's perspective, but it's not the kids'. They see people in their corner."

For some students, she said, "school is it for them. For the state to bad-mouth what they consider their second home, it hurts them. They're proud of why they are here, because in the community they're looked at as future laborers or future workers. But here, they're somebody."

She, like her brothers and sisters who also attended the school, and other classmates still believe in the school and what it has to offer.

"The graduates of my graduating class were talking about what we can do to come out here and help these kids out," she said. "We're very proud of Goldsboro High School. We're behind it 100 percent."

Other parents hold similar opinions. Admittedly, there are problems, but shutting down the school is not a popular solution.

Deborah Sykes said she graduated from the school along with her husband in 1976. Son Jacob will be going to Virginia Tech in the fall on a football scholarship and younger son Jonathan is a sophomore at the school.

The boys, as well as other students, are being prepared for the future, she said.

"We haven't had an instance or a situation with the teachers that we have not been able to address (problems)," she said.

Ideally, she would like to see more tenured teachers at the school.

"I think that the county holds responsibility to place well-qualified educators in an at-risk school," she said. "I don't know if they can, but I'm dismayed by the fact that the school is kind of left in its crisis."

Mrs. Sykes said she is not blaming the school, administrators or teachers.

"We trust that administrators are doing what they need to do. We understand that there's a faction of the student body that's not being encouraged, and we believe that there's a lot more talent and gifts that can come out of there, but they're not being nurtured," she said.

She said there is still a lot of Cougar pride out there that she would like to see return, but lately she has been bothered by the rumblings in the community.

"We know that there are many very talented, gifted children at the school. I think we share the same sentiment, but these kids don't really know that," she said. "The stigma that's put on the school really affects them and their perceptions of themselves. I think that's the biggest waste in all of this."

For Annie Canady, Goldsboro is a part of her family's roots. Her brothers and sisters attended. She graduated in 1975. She has an older son who graduated and daughter Hameka is likely to be valedictorian or salutatorian this spring.

"There's a lot of talent in that school. I know it would be a big mistake to try to close down the school because Goldsboro High School is right there in the center of the city. Taking that school away and putting something else there, I feel that Wayne County would be losing out on a lot," she said.

She said she has found the staff to be very supportive and encouraging. And for all the band and cheerleading trips her children have taken, she has trusted they would be taken care of in her absence.

"I feel very strong about the school," she said. "If you're not involved with the school, you will not know how strong it is.

"Ms. Burden is a special principal. She's very supportive, very strong, but yet still out of her being strong, the children respect her."

If she could change anything, she said it would be for everyone to come together and support one another through the tough times as a community.

"People think that Goldsboro High School is a bad school. They think that it's a lot of violence out there but that's not true," she said.

Some of the instances that have been publicized, she said, were from outside influences. Because the school is in the area it is, it should have more security to make it safer for those who attend, she said.

Beverly Durham, a 1977 graduate of the school whose two children have both attended, is on the Parent Advisory Board this year. She said it has been a challenge because not only do they have to contend with what goes on at the school, but also with how the public perceives it.

"We just think that the public has a general perception that there's not much to offer there, and there is. Just like anywhere else there are problems within the school; it's everywhere," she said.

She said that a quality education is available and students can get out of the school whatever they want. The principal, though, is doing an outstanding job, she said.

Ms. Durham said her children have been under Patricia Burden's administration since middle school.

"I'm very much pleased with her. There's a lot to deal with, and she's dealing with it."

Her concern is more about what the staff is going to do to meet all the mandated standards imposed by the state -- and diversity.

"I'm interested in changing the racial balance. I don't know what route I would consider taking to do that. Everybody has concern about shipping their child far from their home," she said. "I would like to see the racial balance a little bit more. (But) as far as the teacher and student ratio, I think they have good numbers. I'm satisfied with that."