"Turning" Gibbes Middle School Around

In Richland One, a school is getting a valuable makeover as part of a new program.

Gibbes Middle School is part of the "Turnaround Initiative." The goal is to improve academics at the "high-poverty" school.

"We want people to see Gibbes as a school that's on the rise, that's turning around," said Gibbes Principal Kwamine Simpson.

Simpson is beginning her first year as principal at Heyward Gibbes Middle School. She's happy to have a new initiative leading her school in a new direction.

Right now Gibbes' students don't meet state-mandated learning goals. Changing that is a challenge.

"My biggest hope is that we will see the students achieve at levels that they've never achieved before," said Simpson.

"Gibbes' test scores have been kind of flat line over the last three years," said Richland One Superintendent Dr. Percy Mack.

He says the only way to revitalize the school is to go back to basics.

"It takes parents reading to their children and helping their children understand reading is important," said Mack.

Rebecca Turberville and J.E. Wright are two key players involved in the "Turnaround Initiative."

"We have to help the students believe that they can succeed and that effort plays a large part in their success," said Mack.

They all agree the new initiative could mean the difference in whether the school makes the grades, or ultimately fails.

"We're about to soar to new heights at Gibbes," said Principal Simpson.

Gibbes is the only Richland One School participating in the "Turnaround Initiative."