South Charlotte

Sedgefield school seeks support

Even though the school year has ended, Meg McElwain's grassroots effort to improve Sedgefield Elementary School is kicking into high gear.

Using her professional talents as owner and president of Magnolia Marketing, McElwain is blanketing the neighborhood with messages - through email, newsletters, Facebook, yard signs and word of mouth - to encourage families to help improve the low-performing school.

"Currently, many of the families who live in the Sedgefield Elementary and Sedgefield Middle School zone elect to participate in the CMS school lottery and send their children to schools other than their neighborhood schools," said McElwain. "I decided that it was time for someone to step up and work for change."

By working closely with Ivy Gill, the new principal at Sedgefield Elementary, McElwain is determined to improve test scores and increase parent and neighborhood participation to get more neighborhood children to attend the school.

Gill and McElwain hosted a community meeting in May for more than 50 residents and teachers to see firsthand what Gill, along with McElwain's movement, plans to do to improve Sedgefield Elementary.

The two will host a similar meeting 5:30 p.m. July 28 at Sedgefield Elementary School; parents are encouraged to attend with their children, as activities will be offered.

Gill said the school's challenges are to increase student achievement and parental involvement, increase and sustain partnerships - including those with business, community, faith-based institutions and higher education - and increase support from the Sedgefield neighborhood.

"I plan to continue to work collaboratively with the Sedgefield neighborhood by opening (our school) doors for additional opportunities to tour and ask questions, to join our School Leadership Team and our PTA, and to volunteer at the school," said Gill.

One way McElwain is supporting the school is by serving as Parent-Teacher Association president for the 2011-12 school year.

"I will lead the (PTA) organization and spearhead planning for a membership drive and fundraisers, and work to engage families of current and prospective students," said McElwain.

Eric Davis, chairman of the CMS Board of Education, said, "Having grown up in the neighborhood and walked to the school, I remember what it's like to have the school be a big part of the neighborhood. It was a social connection.

"I think what Meg is doing to rally support is the most important part of reforming education because it is at the heart of what it means to educate a child."

"To have a community where you want to live and (where you can) educate a child is so important," said Davis.