Tubman Middle School not making the grade; college students stepping in

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News 12 at 6 o'clock, January 10, 2008

AUGUSTA, Ga.---Tubman is being threatened by a state takeover. News 12 tells you about an opportunity that could be their last chance to turn things around.

Robin Williams is a 20-year-old sophomore at Paine College. She credits a middle school tutor for helping her tackle education head-on. "Her name was Mrs. Loman.. She's an older lady now, and she doesn't know it, but I'm really thankful for her to come out and take the time and just help me with my school work."

Robin is following in Mrs. Loman's footsteps. She is starting a mentor group of her own for Tubman Middle School. The school is on the state's Needs Improvement list and is struggling to make AYP or Adequate Yearly Progress. It has some teachers wanting to abandon ship.

"Hopefully at least 50% of the students that we work with will say, 'You know, someone is taking the time out. They care for me. I want to go to school'," said Williams.

There are about 500 students at Tubman Middle School. Robin hand picked 30 of her friends to spend 1-on-1 time with students. The message: school is cool.

"When you come to school this is your outlet. This is your time to shine. This is your opportunity to get out of whatever struggle or whatever negative barriers in your life," said Williams.

One of the immediate challenges comes in the way of testing coming up in the spring. With Gilbert Manor students being forced to play school zone shuffle some say the students are fighting a losing battle.

"It's a school that's gone through a transition... still in transition. This becomes one more thing that has an impact on them, and hopefully we can make sure it doesn't," said Richmond County School Superintendent Dr. Dana Bedden.

Robin and her group called Rising Stars are trained and board approved and repaired to do their part. "If we have to go over it 1,000 times with them until they fully grasp and learn everything that's what we're gonna do." She says it is her attempt to meet the students where they are. "We're trying to get on their level."

Dr. Bedden says changes will come before the end of the school year--perhaps as early as next week.

Tubman's nickname is the "Phoenix: the fire-bird of hope." Their hope is that the phoenix will rise again.

Robin and her group will start tutoring at least twice a week within the next few weeks.

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