Gov. Kay Ivey toured four of 15 “turnaround schools” last week to encourage students as they begin a new school year.
Ivey started the tour by visiting J.E. Hobbs Elementary and ABC Elementary in her home county of Wilcox.
“I grew up here in Wilcox County so I know what it’s like down here in these deep, dark woods,” Ivey told students at ABC Elementary.
Ivey also visited Jerry Lee Faine Elementary in Dothan and Dozier Elementary in Montgomery.
During the visits with K-2 students, Ivey delivered books, engaged in discussions, answered their questions and shared anecdotes from her own educational and professional journey. Ivey emphasized the role of reading, hard work and leadership in shaping successful futures.
Announced in September 2022, the turnaround schools initiative directed $15 million in funding to 15 Alabama schools that state superintendent Eric Mackey said are dealing with high levels of poverty and “overwhelming needs.”
“When Alabama is investing a historic amount of funding for our schools, we shouldn’t have our elementary students left behind,” Ivey spokesperson Gina Maiola told AL.com last year. “The governor believes that it is too critical of a time in a student’s educational journey to not be giving it our best.”
Each of the 15 turnaround schools is majority-Black, and 6 in 10 students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.
Some of the turnaround schools have already begun seeing success.
ABC Elementary has seen a significant boon in its third-grade reading scores since the initiative began, rising from 41 percent of students reading at grade level in 2021-2022 to 60 percent in 2022-2023.
On Friday, Ivey also released a video message offering her encouragement to Alabama students as they begin the new academic year.