Egyptian High School gets millions of dollars for improvement

TAMMS, IL (KFVS) - Recently, Egyptian High School students scored near the bottom of the list on state tests. But at a time when the State of Illinois is hurting for cash, the district is getting millions of federal dollars to fix the problem.

At Egyptian high students warm up for physical education class no longer in the gym, rather on new tread mills in a fitness room. P.E. also starts at different time, sometimes in the new weight room.

"It helps me get up in the morning and I'm not so sluggish," EHS 11th grader Austin Murphy said. "I work out first hour everyday so it really sets a tone for the whole day."

Meanwhile, students in another classroom read a book out loud.

"As we read the chapters we are taking notes, on like the iPad, to tell what we think the chapter was about," EHS 10th grader Adina Green said.

More than a year ago students at Egyptian High didn't have a nice fitness room nor tablet computers for learning. Rather students under performed on state tests.

Principal Charles Doty says they tried to address the issues but didn't have the resources.

"We have unique problems here with rural poverty and the isolation of our students, so no, this is not any signal person or signal group's problem," Doty said.

But thanks to federal grant dollars, Jeri Callaway is part of a team now working to fix those problems.

"The goal is we have three years to come in and transform it," Callaway said. "So to take what they've got and push these kids, to teach them they can be what they want to be."

It's a change in school culture not just at the student level. Callaway says part of the solution includes extensive outreach to parents along with educational and development opportunities for teachers.

She adds they're also trying to expose students to a more global world, rather than only the surrounding community.

For senior Jessica Kimberlin, that provided an opportunity to experience college life at Southern Illinois University this past summer. It also helped to set her sights far beyond the halls of high school.

"Now I know the possibilities are endless and it starts here at Egyptian," Kimberlin said.

Callaway says so far the changes are working as math score are up 20 percent and discipline issues are down.

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