ECMS students achieve greatness

Published 12:54 am Monday, April 17, 2006

By By Janet Little Cooper
Ask any of the 700 Escambia County Middle School students who Carrie McShan is and you are sure to get a positive response.
McShan, who recently moved to Atmore from Mobile, has become a familiar face around the middle school campus since expanding her supplemental educational services to Escambia County.
McShan, the executive director of Achieving Greatness Tutoring, Inc., began an after school-tutoring program in November at ECMS.
"She has been a tremendous help," ECMS principal Zickeyous Byrd said. "She is here everyday and the students who were struggling have just done really well. They just love her and look forward to the classes and the time they spend with her."
McShan worked for many years volunteering in the public school system of Mobile County before creating AGT, Inc.
Her after school tutoring program is currently at work in seven Mobile County schools and at ECMS in Escambia County.
In Atmore, McShan employs 30 teachers part-time for tutoring every Tuesday and Wednesday from 3:30 to 5 p.m.
"We are federally funded through Title 1," McShan said. "For a school to receive the supplemental services, they must qualify, which means that they are a failing school."
Schools are graded according to the standards set forth in the State of Alabama on standardized testing.
In turn, AGT, Inc., must pass the standards set by the state and must be a qualified provider of such services.
AGT, Inc., tutors 200 ECMS students each week. Only 98 of those students qualify for the program.
"The program would only pay for 98 of the students she works with," Byrd said. "But because of her love for the children she accepted the liability and took on the remaining students at a loss for the company. Her willingness to give back to Atmore is amazing."
Part of McShan's program involves instilling a sense of pride in the students – AGT Pride in fact.
Tutoring participants at ECMS wear a blue button with the inscription AGT Pride on it to remind them of the principles McShan has set before them.
The students are expected to have good conduct at all times, have good AGT attendance, be neatly groomed, wear shirts tucked in and pants on their natural waistline and have their shoes tied.
McShan has random AGT Pride Patrols on the 8 campuses she is involved in and gives rewards to students who meet the AGT Pride criteria.
Rewards tend to be substantial in McShan's program and the students are willing to make the commitment needed to ensure they can be a part of it.
McShan has given students Nike shoes, an X-Box, and cash rewards for achieving greatness in school as a result of their after school tutoring.
Not only do the students benefit on a personal basis, but also the school as a whole has experienced quite a few rewards as a result of her program. McShan presented Mr. Byrd with a check for $5,585 to fund a field trip for the 200 tutoring students to Sam's Fun City for an entire day.
The remainder of the money will help Byrd pay $500 bonuses to teachers who were able to move two of their special education students from a Level 2 to a 3 in the Alabama Reading and Math Test.
"Our kids don't have a lot of fun things to do around here," Byrd said. "It is just overwhelming to be able to call a parent and tell them that their child is coming home with $10 or a ticket to Sam's Fun City from AGT. I have been in other failing schools who qualify for this program, but I have never seen one like AGT."
For McShan it is all about the children and giving back to your community.
"I see a need that someone has to step in and give that little extra," McShan said. "Our schools can't do it, parent's can 't do it, and the school board can't do it, so it is my goal to do anything I can to help the students, the school and the parents. Whatever it takes to make a child smile, I will do. You have to teach with love and give them something to show them kindness and they will open their minds to learning."

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