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Pine Grove Elementary Takes No Excuses

Principal Cover assists students
with classroom assignment.

In 2002, Dr. Janice Cover became the principal of Palm Beach County's Pine Grove Elementary School. Pine Grove was formerly a fine arts magnet school, but when Dr. Cover came aboard she created a plan to focus the curriculum on reading and writing instead.

She quickly acknowledged that Pine Grove had a high teacher turnover rate, and she used the extra magnet dollars to hire area teachers and pay the current teachers $7,000 more each year. However, she required the existing teacher faculty to re-apply and prove they were committed to the students by agreeing to work 175 extra hours providing tutoring, professional development, home visits, etc.

Pine Grove Teacher Trevor Roberts
talks with students about his class motto
on teamwork.

Dr. Cover's philosophy is there are no excuses. "It should be the expectation of everyone that all kids can succeed," she said. "If success is expected, then they will succeed." Dr. Cover worked to ensure Pine Grove's solid commitment to its students.

Eighteen of her 57 original teachers stayed, but within months of recruiting new teachers, Pine Grove was at full staff. Also, every teacher, staff member, student and parent signed an official oath to make a positive difference at the school. Then the hard work began—tutoring sessions five times weekly, including Saturdays in January and February, FCAT parent learning nights and a host of other activities. Weekly testing was conducted and the teachers were required to report the scores to Dr. Cover. Pine Grove's school grade improved from a D to a C in 2002. The parents, students and staff now refer to the FCAT as "Families and Community Achieving Together."

"We contribute the success of Pine Grove to teacher stability, a supportive staff, the truly ‘open door' policy of Dr. Cover, and a strong collaboration between the teachers," said Pine Grove Teacher Bonnie Sorenson.

Though the majority of Pine Grove's students come from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds, Dr. Cover truly knows the attitude change has made a positive difference at the school.

"Disadvantaged children, given the right instruction, can succeed," added Dr. Cover. In 2003 Pine Grove Elementary earned an "A".

For more information on Pine Grove Elementary School, please visit the school web site: