Principal Profile: Dr. Marcus Stallworth sets great expectations at Fain Elementary

Student achievement has improved significantly at Fain Elementary School since Dr. Marcus Stallworth arrived eight years ago, but don’t expect the principal, his teachers or students to rest on their laurels. “I shared my vision with faculty, parents and students,” he said, noting that aligning the curriculum with state standards was his first priority. “My vision is that this school becomes a national Blue Ribbon School of Excellence.”

Stallworth’s background indicates he is the right person to help Fain achieve that goal. The former teacher also has served as a Title I consultant and Principal Assistant to the Associate Commissioner in the Office of School Improvement in his native Kentucky. “I wanted to be a principal and turn around a struggling school,” said Stallworth, who completed the requirements for his doctoral degree from Clark Atlanta University in November. “All the basis of my work was in school improvement.”

Though Stallworth had never worked in a district as large as APS, he was comfortable making the transition. “School improvement is school improvement, whether you’re in Boston, Louisville or Atlanta,” he said. “The correlatives of effective schools are the same no matter where you are.”

Stallworth aggressively targeted parental involvement as a tool to improve student achievement. He said when he arrived at Fain, parents seemed content with their students’ performance, but many were not that actively involved in their children’s education. The principal has taken steps to change that. “I tell parents to come to the school and see for themselves what is going on,” he said. “That sends a message that they care about their children’s education.”

He also created the Fain University program. Parents can “enroll” by attending workshops on a wide range of topics such as resume writing, dressing for success, managing a special-needs child and CPR. Parents who complete 20 hours of Fain University courses or volunteer for 20 hours are invited to a graduation ceremony in May. A temporary agency has even provided employment opportunities to Fain University graduates. This parent-school bond, along with committed teachers and faculty, helped Fain students make significant improvements on standardized tests. When Stallworth first arrived, students scored in the 40th to 50th percentile. Fain students now score in 75th to 80th percentile.

“We’re hoping that number goes even higher,” he said.

Fain also has made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) under the federal No Child Left Behind Act for 11 consecutive years, a source of great pride for everyone in the school community. Strong partnerships with organizations such as Home Depot, Central Presbyterian Church and Maxx Fun Family Entertainment help reinforce the school’s journey to excellence. Students also can participate in a variety of extracurricular activities, including math club, chess club, art club, band, chorus, Top Ladies of Distinction and Champion Boys.

By the end of the school year, Fain will be equipped with 40 Promethean Whiteboards to further enhance instruction among teachers who already make full use of interactive learning tools. “The teachers are what make our school special,” Stallworth said. “They have a lot of passion for what they do.”

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  1. Marcus, We were so stunned with your presentation at DHS. I knew that you had a lot of ability and am so glad that you have put it all to use. I looked in the city library for the book you read to us and they do not have it. Please let me know the name and who wrote it and they said that they would get it. I have the old short version of it but, do not have the longer one that you read. Keep up the good work. Janet

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