Avondale Elementary won't quite be the same when students return in August. Long time Principal Dr. Ann Curry has retired.
The re-emergence of the Avondale community seemed to come out of nowhere. Lots of new businesses followed a population boom in the area, but many people say the school is a big part of that community's revitalization story and you can't talk about Avondale without talking about Principal Ann Curry.
The long time administrator is retiring after 16 years at Avondale School and 24 years in education.
"Everything that I am proud of today is not because of Ann Curry. It's because of a staff that I was able to put together and then best of all, the parents and community and the kids," said Dr. Curry.
When Dr. Curry looks back over her tenure, she's proud of taking Avondale School from low academic achievement to high performing, which showed up in the percentiles on standardized tests.
"I feel good about when we came here our test scores were in the 30's, our reading scores were in the low 30's. In 2014, our test scores were in the high 60's and 70's," said Dr. Curry.
Curry says she immediately knew she needed specialized training and she got it to meet her students' needs.
"I went to Harvard three summers. Birmingham city sent me. I studied urban schools," said Dr. Curry. She adds, "I knew that's what Avondale needed and I wanted to be the best."
That included bringing in a performing arts curriculum where students learned reading, writing and core subjects through the arts like dance and music.
She also insisted on having pre-kindergarten programs and got sponsors to pay for the first class.
Many folks credit the progress at Avondale as helping to reverse urban flight.
"Avondale is right in the middle of what is almost reverse integration. Young professionals would move into the city and they would visit the school and they liked what they saw here," said Dr. Curry. "I sowed my heart and soul into the building and into the children in this building and I enjoyed every single day that I spent with them".
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