When Sharon Byrdsong was named principal of Azalea Gardens Middle School in Norfolk, Va., she knew she had her work cut out for her. The school, one of the city's lowest achieving middle schools, was plagued by poor morale and low expectations. Her studies at Regent, particularly in the leading-edge field of character development, convinced her that with the right teaching approach and an atmosphere of trust and personal responsibility, the students could achieve.
Through monthly testing and in-house assessments, Byrdsong and her staff analyzed teaching techniques to discover strategies that worked. They also went out into the community, making home visits to encourage parental involvement, and called on the community for support, too. Their efforts paid off. By 2003-04, student pass rates soared to 93 percent in history and 99 percent in math. The lowest achieving Norfolk middle school was now one of the city's highest achieving middle schools. More importantly, the environment changed from one of unwilling participation to one of eager anticipation.
This remarkable turnaround earned Byrdsong the National Middle School Principal of the Year Award for 2006. She says her education at Regent gives her the leadership and practical skills she needs to continue to succeed. "There's an atmosphere of excellence at Regent. They expect great things of their students, and they're willing to put themselves out there to help you reach your potential."
Today, Dr. Sharon Byrdsong, graduate of the Ed.D. K-12 School Leadership Program, is working as Executive Director of Secondary Schools for Norfolk Public Schools.
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