By Debbie Yarbrough, Academy of Math & Science-Camelback Principal

In its first year, Academy of Math and Science Camelback went from rough waters to smooth sailing. A replication of the sister school AMS Prince in Tucson, AMS Camelback had big shoes to fill. The school building was ready for staff and students three days before school was to begin at the start of August. The leadership team was busy hiring teachers along with getting the building prepared for instruction. Despite these best-laid plans, by the end of October 2015, the school had experienced turnover of 19 staff members, along with its leadership team. These changes led to shaky enrollment as parents and students alike were unsure of their choice.

A plan and a new team to turn this around were eager for the challenge, and we never waivered from the mindset that we will make a difference for ALL students. The comeback started with transparency and being clear of our mission. Using Galileo data along with the support from the AMS network, the vision of academic achievement was in focus. We posted achievement data at the front entrance and in classrooms, and sent it home to parents. It was visible at every turn – not always looking so hot – but showing where we needed to evaluate and revise instruction. Our team of committed teachers and support staff made the difference!

Here’s what we saw: Earlier in the year, the 5th grade data was trending far below the other grades. Students passed this data each day on their way to lunch and to and from school. All students and visitors saw it too, and the comments were, “5th grade is not doing as well as the other grades, but they are working on it.”

Then at the end of May the latest data arrived, and students in all grades – with one 5th grade student in particular – were overheard saying, “Wow! We did so good our data is through the roof!”

We are very proud to say that it was not just 5th grade that hit and surpassed its mark. All but one grade level, in ELA and mathematics, surpassed the expected growth by 50 points or more. Oh, and 5th grade? It surpassed by 127 points.

Now, it is time for that smooth sailing boat, to take this staff to the islands for the summer, to regroup, reenergize, and reflect, as our vision is clear: academic achievement for ALL!