Community Spirit--Mercer Middle School

Two years ago, Mercer Middle School was on the "needs improvement" list, not the list any school wants to make. But what could have been the end made this school come out fighting. Administrators found the key to turning the school around. They say they couldn't have done it without the parents and the entire community.

Last week, the Georgia Middle School Association named it a "Lighthouse School to Watch."

"A lighthouse school is one that serves as a model for other schools," explained Gloria Dukes, the school's principal. "Some of the programmatic structures we have here are ones that the Georgia Middle School Association thought were engaging, innovative and unique."

"Mercer has done a tremendous job with its writing and math academies," said Linda Hopping of the Georgia Middle School Association. "These children are performing way above what might be expected to do in these areas."

Mercer is one of 36 schools in the nation to earn the honor. Parents like Sharonda Johnson are lining up to sing the praises of this school that's really turned itself around. "My daughter's had wonderful experience here," she said. "She's exuded confidence and competence with her learning. She loves school. The faculty and staff and administration have been extremely supportive."

That's how Mercer Middle School captures the WTOC Community Spirit. Only three schools in Georgia have been named Lighthouse Schools to Watch.

Questions or comments concerning WTOC Community Spirit should be directed to Dawn Baker,