Tired of Failing: Jefferson Co. school trying new programs, tutoring and teacher training to turn it around

04/17/2013 11:17 AM

Southern High School is among the half dozen persistently struggling high schools in Jefferson County that is trying to dig itself out of years of academic underachieving.

But the school, which is in the heart of Okolona, faces a host of external challenges.
More than one in 10 students is homeless. And more than 15 percent of families whose children go to the school live below the poverty line.

Plus, the school’s population has been ravaged by academic flight, in which 97 of the 117 highest-performing students who live in Southern’s district go to other elite magnet schools or Advanced Placement schools within the district.

Meanwhile, 237 of Southern’s 1,200 students come from Fairdale, Fern Creek, Iroquois, Moore, Seneca and Western’s areas — all of which have been identified as “focus” or “priority” schools.

That has principal Bryce Hibbard, a former state champion basketball coach, and his faculty trying new programs, tutoring and teacher training efforts.

“The thing that I’ve challenged them to do is to just look at it differently — to think about the way we interact with kids differently, the way that we teach them, to work on it differently and so, that’s what we’re trying to do,” Hibbard said.


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