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Village Academy gets principal from Belle Glade

Village Academy gets principal from Belle Glade

By LOIS K. SOLOMON Sun-Sentinel      
Web-posted: 12:16 a.m. Mar. 21, 2001

   After a three-month search, the Palm Beach County School District has found a principal for Village Academy, the new elementary school for Delray Beach's southwest neighborhood.
   Gale Fulford, principal of Glade View Elementary School in Belle Glade, begins her new job on April 2, if the School Board approves her selection at its next meeting later this month.
   "I love the fact that there is now a whole community of children educated right where they live," Fulford said Tuesday. "I want to work closely with the community and the teachers, find out where their strengths are and what their needs are."
   Fulford replaces Barbara Brown, who resigned in December for health reasons. She agreed to stay on until a new principal was found.
   Village Academy opened in August with about 200 students in kindergarten, first and second grades. The school will add third grade next year, and plans to continue adding grades each year through high school.
   Most of the students had been bused to Boca Raton to racially balance that area's predominantly white schools. But residents of the predominantly black neighborhood in southwest Delray Beach lobbied the school district for their own school and succeeded with the help of more than $1 million in private money. The school hopes to resolve some of the poverty-related problems of the neighborhood, such as a 30 percent high-school graduation rate, through rigorous academics.
   The students attend from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. each day and can also attend on weekends and holidays. The intensive schedule, along with the difficulty in teaching some of the students, spurred five teachers to quit in the school's first two months.
   But no staff members have quit since then, and school founder Chuck Ridley said he expects Fulford to contribute to the school's stability.
   "After meeting Gale, it became clear she had every skill set needed for us to do well on the FCAT in 2004," the first time Village Academy students will take the state exam, Ridley said. "She will lead us to becoming an A-rated school."
   The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test is one of the main components the state uses to grade schools.
   Ridley said he was impressed that Fulford started several programs at Glade View that have been organized at Village Academy, including after-school care for children, classes to teach parents to use computers and social workers brought to the school to help families.
   Fulford has been principal at Glade View for six years. She also has taught at three elementary schools in Palm Beach County and worked for the school district as a reading specialist.
    Lawanda Brown, a first-grade teacher at Village Academy, said she hopes Fulford supports the school's philosophy of developing not only academic but social and emotional skills of children.
   "I would want her to continue the emphasis on the whole child," she said.
   Lois Solomon can be reached at or 561-243-6536.


Copyright 2000, Sun-Sentinel Co. & South Florida Interactive, Inc.

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