Brainerd High School removed from Tennessee schools priority list

Faculty and parents believe future at Brainerd HS is bright

CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) — It’s been more than a decade, but they finally did it.

Brainerd High School officially worked its way off the state’s priority list of struggling schools, and they’re not slowing down any time soon.

The state of Tennessee recently named 13 Hamilton County schools as Reward Schools, and another 13 as Level 5 Schools.

But for the folks at Brainerd High School, its performance last year has them at a new level of their own.

School faculty and parents confirmed it — Panther Pride is alive and well.

Priority Schools make up the lowest-performing five percent of schools throughout the Volunteer State.

Graduation rates sit below 67%.

After more than a decade on that list, Brainerd High has finally made the grade.

“We recognize we still have tremendous work to do,” said Brainerd HS Executive Principal Dr. Crystal Sorrells. “We still want to get more of our students proficient, we still want to continue to decrease our chronic absenteeism rate. We still know that we have to keep pushing forward and we have to push faster than others because our students are behind.”

Shayla Hood’s son is a senior honor student at Brainerd and she says she’s noticed the school’s turnaround.

After the hard work from teachers, faculty and students alike, she’s proud of Brainerd’s change in culture.

“For future parents, I would just say give Brainerd a shot,” Hood said. “I know a lot of times it gets a bad reputation and I’m always out there defending it. But I think this just proves what we’ve all been saying. No matter where they fall, what kind of student they are, they will tailor an education to their needs and make sure that their needs are getting met. They will not only push them but I think they’ll make them excited about learning.”

For 20 years, Levar Brown has seen numerous administrations come and go as the school trended downward but it never discouraged him to leave.

The veteran teacher says it actually motivated him to stay and help his school succeed.

“When I started there, it was the premier school of the city,” Brown said. “When I was a high school student there, it was one of the premier schools of the city. So to see it go to the bottom five and then come out in the direction we’re going, it’s truly awesome and amazing what’s taking place in our building right now.”

Sorrells is also an alum of the school and says the new culture being built inside Brainerd’s walls is leading them into a bright future.

She also recognized the 26 combined Reward and Level 5 Hamilton County Schools and believes if Brainerd keeps trending upward, it’s only a matter of time until they’re on that list, as well.

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