The Obama administration is trying to foster more public-private partnerships to help low-performing schools.
In between NBA All-Star activities on Friday, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan held a short town hall meeting at Memorial Middle School to announce a new program being launched by the Obama administration.
Memorial Middle was held up as an example of a low-performing school where various community groups have pitched in to help boost student achievement and keep kids focused on their studies.
The federal government's new "Together for Tomorrow" initiative aims to highlight such schools so that educators around the country can emulate their work.
"If we collectively decide no children are going to fall through the cracks … If we do this as a community, they are going to be our future doctors and lawyers and community leaders," Duncan said at the meeting attended by numerous political and community leaders, including U.S. Senator Bill Nelson and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer.
Memorial Middle, now a C school, has long relied on volunteers and community groups to help with tutoring and mentoring, raising money and other activities. But those efforts were ramped up this school year, said Principal Shelia Windom.
For example, the city of Orlando began offering a mentoring program there that pairs students with professionals in the fields the kids are considering as careers. Also, the federal government and Heart of Florida United Way have provided Memorial with a full-time coordinator to help organize its community outreach efforts.