Teachers and administrators said the new Florida A&M University Developmental Research School will bring hope for the school’s morale after its completion in the fall of 2008. The school will house state-of-the-art classrooms with better equipment and allow for the introduction of new programs.
Roger Walker, an intensive reading teacher at FAMU DRS, said an increase in school morale and pride and an overall facelift of the school are some advantages of the new facility.
“I feel it’s been a long time coming,” he said. “We need a facility that is comfortable to the expectations of teaching and learning.”
Robert Lemons, dean of the FAMU College of Education, said he is sure the new facility will jump start a series of new programs that will help attract students.
The school plans to establish academies sponsored by various colleges and schools at the University to give high school juniors and seniors the opportunity to have an early experience with college level work, which will be redeemable for college credits.
“Smart classrooms at the new facility will make this possible,” Lemons said. “The classrooms will be equipped with everything that makes it easier for teaching and learning, such as TVs, computers and projectors.”
The new school, to be located on the corner of Wahnish Way and Orange Avenue, is scheduled to be finished September 2008, but the school may not be opened until fall 2009.
Walker has mixed emotions about the location of the new facility, while Lemons and FAMU DRS Superintendent Ronald Holmes said they are very satisfied with the location.
Walker described the location as “bittersweet.”
“The sweet is the school will be out of the main thoroughfare of University traffic,” Walker said. “The bitter is we’ll be a little more than a walk away from campus activity that has a great impact on exposure, teaching and learning.”
Walker said it will have a negative impact on volunteers because of transportation issues for non-driving students. However, Holmes said the location is great for security and identification purposes.
“It will be easier to identify FAMU DRS students from FAMU students,” Holmes said.
Some students said they are very excited about the new school.
Shaakira White, an eighth grader, said she did not expect the school to be built so quickly, and Patience Cuffy, an eighth grader, said she was excited about the new structure of the school.
“I’m excited about it, and I feel there will be more organization,” Cuffy said.
Melissa Leon, parent of two FAMU DRS students, said she is excited about the opening of the new facility.
“It’s been a long time coming and I believe that the students, teachers and parents are more than ready to enter those doors,” Leon said.
Leon’s daughter, Cherrise Leon, said she has always hoped FAMU DRS would one day look and feel like other schools.
While parents like Leon are excited, some parents like Angela Amos are not as enthused.
Amos said she is excited because FAMU DRS needs a new facility, but the curriculum is not where it should be. She said she does not think the new facility will change much of the curriculum taught at the school.
“I don’t think it is going to do anything for the school because the administration is still the same,” Amos said.
Amos has an 11th grader and an eighth grader at FAMU DRS. She said she plans to withdraw her children and enroll them into other public schools.