Hartley teachers take to the street to reach community

A school bus of Hartley Elementary teachers chanting “2025” -- the year the Bibb school systems hopes to reach a 90 percent graduation rate -- led a community outreach convoy Wednesday.

“Today we’re visiting our neighborhoods to welcome our students back and to welcome parents to open house, which will take place on Friday,” said Shelia Garcia, the school’s principal. “This is our welcome back tour that we conducted last year, and now it’s become a tradition for our staff and students at Hartley.”

The bus was followed by a couple of vans and a truck equipped with a loudspeaker and a DJ.

The truck rolled around the neighborhood playing music while the DJ used a microphone to hype the start of school.

Hartley’s outreach team went door to door on the hot morning -- after riding on a bus with no air conditioning -- to greet parents with smiles and to hand out information about the schools’ open house July 31 from 3-5 p.m.

“It feels good to know teachers are coming out and being supportive and seeing the kids before school starts back,” Yalanda Henley, the mother of a first-grade Hartley student, said.

She said Hartley has come a long way -- in just a year -- since her son started school there.

A recent improvement plan, developed by faculty and staff at Hartley, led to a “complete makeover” of the school’s culture and raised academic expectations.

Last fall, Hartley Elementary became eligible for removal from the state’s list of struggling schools, but it stayed on the list so it could continue participation in a program that provides money for the school, the School Improvement Grant program.

After completing its grant participation, Hartley Elementary will be removed from the list.

To contact writer David Schick, call 744-4382 or find him on Twitter @davidcschick.