JACKSONVILLE, FL- "If you are not a reader, you are a...?" asks Ms. Bellino to her class.
"Tracker!" they answer in unison.
At Garden City Elementary, students and staff are tracking something amazing. Hard work that is paying off big for the elementary school in Jacksonville. Last year when Principal Mychelle Grover joined Garden City Elementary, she and the teachers were ready to turn the page on the 'D' grade the school had.
"The kids knew, from the second we walk in here, to the second we walk out, we are working on those big goals," tells teacher Stephanie Bellino.
Goals like raising that 'D' grade to something better. Principal Grover says it began with sitting down teachers and students to talk about the data and their listing.
"Making everybody aware of the data and making everyone take ownership of the data," says Principal Grover.
Also doing monthly data chats with each student, like 5th grader Leron Harrison.
"I went up three years growth in one year," he says showing his file.
And then getting kids, like Mya and Marquis (Miss & Mr. Garden City), involved in more school activities.
"National Honor society, safety patrol, Girls on the Run, and Team Up. So I think our teachers really made a good impression on us," tells student Mya Ingram.
The home of the Garden City Stinger Bees was abuzz with excitement when the school grade came in.
"I almost came to tears, we were sitting there and looking at the numbers that our babies had and we noticed that this wasn’t going to be a 'C'… we are moving into the 'B' range," tells Principal Grover.
From a 'D' to a 'B' grade in just one year! The extra work had succeeded!
"Everyone in the school put in the hard work, even the teachers made sure we had a better education," tells Marquise Hammond, the president of the National Honor Society.
"To see that we could go from a D to a B school means we can do a lot," explains Leron Harrison.
"It feels good," says 4th grader Jyair Shaw.
For teachers, it was an important lesson for the young students. Hard work does pay off and it changed the mindset of the school.
"As a school, the culture has shifted. Kids come in hugging and asking 'what are we doing today'?" tells Ms. Bellino.
For Principal Grover it is so important to celebrate the success she saw in teachers every day.
"You can’t get anybody to be a change agent or reflect upon their practices if they don’t know that you appreciate the things that they do and you are there to help," she says.
Now that school pride has taken root in Garden City Elementary, the stinger bees are already looking toward their next goal.
"Based on that success, they came in like 'we want to be an 'A'' I was like 'ok let’s do it!' Knowing that they have that drive internally, that is the hardest part, so they are all interested in what we are doing today. So hearing that is amazing," tells Ms. Bellino.