When a state-run school had to relocate at the beginning of the school year because of a leaky roof, officials with the Achievement School District hoped students would soon be back.
That’s not going to happen, though. Georgian Hills Achievement Elementary School will stay at its temporary home at nearby Frayser Achievement Elementary through the school year. And besides sharing a building, they will share a principal.
ASD officials announced this week that Yolanda Dandridge will take the lead of Frayser Elementary, in addition to her role as principal at Georgian Hills.
Verna Ruffin, chief of academics for the ASD, said the decision was made after Jessica Tang resigned as principal of Frayser Elementary. Assistant principals at both schools will now report to Dandridge.
Georgian Hills relocated to Frayser Elementary, two miles away, in August. Ruffin said the goal is still for Georgian Hills’ 258 students to move back into their original building after the school year ends and the building is fully repaired. At that point, the ASD either will promote the assistant principal already serving at the 207-student Frayser or bring in a new leader.
Georgian Hills, under Dandridge’s leadership, recently came off of Tennessee’s list of lowest-performing “priority schools.” That success was a deciding factor, Ruffin said, in asking Dandridge to take responsibility temporarily for both schools.
“This is not how we originally planned it, of course, but it’s an example of taking something that could be a big challenge, putting our heads together, and creating a plan that benefits two schools,” Ruffin said. “Frayser teachers will get to collaborate with an outstanding principal.”
Both schools, like most in the ASD, have struggled with enrollment. Early this school year, the student count at Georgian Hills was down by 20 percent and Frayser’s had fallen 30 percent.
But Ruffin said there have since been enrollment gains and that, in the case of Georgian Hills, a dip was expected with an abrupt change in location.
“It’s a matter of adjusting to put two schools in one location,” she said. “The opportunity to unify around one school leader in the building will hopefully make it a smoother rest of the year for everyone.”