Community turns the closing of Crockett Elementary into a positive experience

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MIDLAND -- After six years on the improvement required list, Midland ISD voted last month to close Crockett Elementary after this year.

As a show of support for the staff, Educate Midland and several community organizations joined forces and hosted a special appreciation dinner Thursday night.

“A lot of us don’t know where we are going, where our jobs are going to be next year and it’s just a sweet gesture,” said fourth grade teacher Tonya Gilstrap.

Several teachers said it felt great knowing that the community still has their backs, because they feel the school district gave up on them too soon.

"We have challenges and we're not going to put it just on teachers, or administration, or staff, or just the students," said Laura Roman, the President of Educate Midland. "This is a community issue and we're all in this together."

Behind their smiling faces remains an open wound that has yet to heal.

“At first it was anger and denial, and I think what really bothered everybody is that there’s nobody at that school right now that’s been there for six years,” Gilstrap said. “This is somebody else’s mess that we’re busting our tails to try to fix.”

Gilstrap is one of several teachers who’ve been at Crockett for just one year.

She and others feel there should’ve been a lot more support given to the school that struggled to meet standard on the STAR test for the past six years.

“You can’t expect a teacher to continue to do intervention with one little small group and then 15 other kids in your classroom are being ignored,” said Gilstrap. “We needed to have district personnel, we should’ve had coaches on campus helping pull groups of kids also, and that didn’t happen.”

This is why the dinner meant the world to all the teachers at Crockett.

But, the cherry on top was receiving news that fifth grade math went up 19 percent on their STAR exams.

“We’re not giving up,” said Adrienne Horn who teaches third grade at the elementary. “As I tell my kids, and as they tell me, we’re going to go out with a bang, we’re not going to go out with a fizzle.”

The staff at Crockett will stay in the district, they just don’t know where they’ll be placed quite yet.

In addition to the appreciation dinner, Odilon Bretado was honored.

Bretado is the most tenured staff member, having served as the campus custodian since 1978.

The staff is hoping the school district will rename Crockett after him.