Parents fight to keep school results in new school learning cent - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Parents fight to keep school results in new school learning center

CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) -

A first-of-its kind public school is re-shaping the way our children are learning in the Savannah-Chatham School District.  

The board of education decided to keep Port Wentworth Elementary after public outcry after proposing it be closed, and what they have now is completely different to what we're used to seeing around here.

It's now called The Port Wentworth Premiere Early Learning Center, and it's a Pre-K through 2nd grade.  A ceremonial snip of the ribbon Wednesday morning was really a "cherry on top" for parents and educators on their efforts of keeping the school open since the building itself is more than half a century old.

District 8 Board of Education Representative Ruby Jones said she listened to the parents when they said "no" last year.  "We were going to close the school and send the children to other places and the parents were in such an uproar.” She continued, "We talked to them more and we found out what they wanted, and they wanted their little children to stay right here."

Charlie Rice's son went to Port Wentworth Elementary, and now his granddaughter, Ella, is a second grader here. He said she's in a more inviting environment now that the older students are at the new Rice Hope School.  "So by doing this, the smaller kids have a chance to advance further," he said.

Dr. Anne Levett, the chief academic officer for Savannah Chatham Public School System, calls the Pre-J through 2nd school "front loading success".

"Research says we've moved away from allowing children to learn the way they need to," Levett said. "We've moved more toward focusing on having them prepare for tests. In this building, the focus will be on helping them learn naturally."

Principal Tamika Wright agrees but is quick to point out that they still teach the state standards, but they're the only public school in the state and only one of a handful of private schools around Atlanta that is using the Reggio Emilia Curriculum.

"It's no doubt that every parent will want their child to come over here. It's like she said, the Montessori," Wright said. "When she (Dr. Anne Levett) says we're going to have more premiere schools, it means great things for Port Wentworth and the district."

Reggio Emilia Curriculum focuses on exploration and project based learning, something the principal said will put them on the same level as some private schools.

You can read more about the "Reggio approach" here.

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