Assistant Secretary Thelma Melendez Visits Schools in St. Louis

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Assistant Secretary Thelma Melendez Visits Schools in St. LouisSt. Louis students, parents, teachers, administrators, local union leaders, and community partners met with Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education Thelma Melendez when she visited Yeatman Middle School and Clay Elementary School in the St. Louis school district on May 27.  

At each school, the school community engaged in a candid discussion with Dr. Melendez about the reforms they are implementing to improve student achievement.  Kelvin Adams, the Superintendent of St. Louis Public Schools, also participated in the dialogue about the challenges facing St. Louis.  Later in the day, Dr. Melendez held a roundtable discussion with teachers from across the district at a meeting of local leaders of the affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers.
In discussions throughout the day, parents, teachers, and administrators raised the challenges of parent engagement, ensuring that students come to school ready to learn, and ensuring that students are making strides towards achieving at or above grade level. Dr. Melendez encouraged the teachers and school leaders to keep up their strong partnerships with the community to provide additional supports for students.  She engaged in a candid dialogue with teachers and acknowledged the difficult work of  turning around schools in the district.  She listened to their concerns.  Dr. Melendez encouraged the entire school community to think about a common vision for what a successful turnaround looks like at their school, and to keep working towards this vision.  
Dr. Melendez described ways that the U.S. Department of Education could assist schools turning around, and she discussed ways that the ESEA Blueprint proposal can support schools’ work through school turnaround grants, Promise Neighborhoods Grants, teacher and leader development, afterschool and extended learning time supports, accountability growth models, and improved assessments and standards towards college- and career-readiness.  Teachers and administrators expressed their appreciation for the opportunity to share their challenges and successes and the opportunity to keep an open dialogue with the Department of Education.

Kathryn Young
Office of Elementary and Secondary Education