Robert E. Lee High School has Nearly All New Teachers, Montgomery Schools "Vacates" Staff

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By Heather VacLav

More than three-quarters of the teachers at Robert E Lee High School in Montgomery are new this school year. It's all part of the Montgomery Public Schools restructuring process, to start a clean slate and improve the school.
 
“You can tell that they're more excited to teach the kids that are here this year,” said Rodriques Williams, a senior at Lee High School. Williams says he and his friends immediately noticed teachers taking students’ futures more seriously.
 
“They're energetic, they're eager to learn, they're eager to teach, and they're eager to make a difference,” said Principal Lrenza Pharrams about the new teachers.
 
More than 80 certified faculty and staff, including 14 Teach for America Teachers joined the Lee High School staff. TFA teachers are trained to meet higher standards and specialize in teaching strategies in line with Thompson’s vision for the 2012-2013 school year.
 
“It's always good to be able to bring in different ideas, different individuals from other areas and basically to have different points of view,” Pharrams said.
 
After failing to meet the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) six out of seven years, the Montgomery Public Schools decided to restructure Robert E. Lee High School, reassigning most teachers to other schools.
 
“We're just incorporating anything we can that we think will make them life long learners,” said Bridget Harris with Teach for America. Harris teaches business technology applications at Lee. “We don't just want them to learn in the classroom, but we want them to keep that in their memory to go to college, past college, whatever they want to do after high school.”
 
Montgomery Public Schools says the fresh team of teachers are expected to boost test scores, graduate more students and develop children into adults.
 
“I've really made an effort to show my students that they are really important to me,” said David Simpson, a math teacher at Lee from Teach for America. “So we spend a lot of time talking about their interests, what they enjoy doing and taking their interests and apply that to my math class.”
 
Lee High School says students are reacting positively to their new teachers, and are already doing better than this time last year.
 
If the restructuring is successful at Lee High School, MPS may follow the same program at other Montgomery Public Schools.