In 2009, the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education featured Atlanta’s Parks Middle School on its annual bus tour of high-achieving schools, and I joined the visit. I arrived early in my own car, beating the bus and getting a chance to chat with students for an hour.
The enthusiastic students expressed pride in their school, which was decorated with banners announcing its awards and distinctions. And there were many.
In 2006, Parks Middle made adequate yearly progress and surpassed Atlanta Superintendent Beverly Hall’s even more ambitious targets. That same year, the percentage of eighth-graders who passed the math section of the CRCT rose from 24 percent to 86 percent. In 2008, Parks earned national accolades after becoming Atlanta’s only middle school to meet all its academic targets.
Over the weekend, I dug into my old files — a box in my closet — for my notebook from Parks. Among the quick observations I had jotted down: “Kids proud of school.” “Telling me about