BAKER, LA (WAFB) - There is a community-wide effort underway in Baker to flip a failing school.
Teachers, parents and local businesses are rolling up their sleeves to help give Bakerfield Elementary School a fresh start.
Teacher Famee Jeansonne has spent the week doing what most teachers do right before school starts, decorating her classroom. Setting the right tone for a group of first grade students takes a lot of work and creativity.
"If you are five or six years old, to come in a room and see it bright and airy, it just makes you want to be there and perform," Jeansonne said.
That is especially important for students at Bakerfield Elementary. The academically-challenged school scored an "F" on the state's last report card.
The City of Baker School System's new Superintendent, Herman Brister, PhD, said it is why he has decided to give the campus a little extra attention before students return.
"It sets the stage for a wow factor for the school. The kids walk on campus the first day and they can readily see the environment has changed. They are anxious to get inside the school and see what's taking place inside the classroom," Brister said.
The upgrades go far beyond a fresh coat of paint, new school supplies, and fresh flowers. Dr. Brister said he also made some staff changes including hiring a new school principal, Candace Jenkins.
"In the learning lab, students will go in and take laptops and read [Accelerated Reader] books and take tests there. We are trying to promote different programs that will increase our reading scores and our math scores," Jenkins said.
There is still a lot of work to do before the first bell rings, but teachers know once students take their seats the focus will turn to performance. Dr. Brister has set the bar high.
"I am absolutely certain this school will grow at least 12 to 15 points on the academic scale. That's a big leap, but I think the right people are in place to make that happen," Brister said.
Bakerfield administrators are asking for volunteers to come out to the school on August 7 and 8 to help them put the finishing touches on the campus.
For more information, contact Candace Jenkins at (225) 775-0550 or Jerri Williams at (337) 343-0999.