From old to new: A Manatee middle school continues to progress

By Lauren Verno, Reporter
Last Updated: Friday, August 11, 2017, 11:50 AM EDT

A once segregated school, Lincoln Memorial Middle is hoping to change again for the better—this time by becoming a charter school.

  • Manatee middle school votes to become charter school 
  • Lincoln Middle looking to improve school grade
  • Middle school once a segregated high school

Lincoln High was one of the first segregated schools in Manatee County to close its doors for integration.

Life-long Manatee County resident Gwendolyn McElroy was part of the last segregated graduating class of Lincoln Memorial High in 1969.

“We knew nothing about integration, it was something that was very, very new to each and every one of us,” McElroy said.

When a segregated Lincoln High closed its doors, an integrated Lincoln Middle School opened, and for almost 50 years since then, McElroy has sat behind the desk as the middle school’s secretary.

McElroy said the school has evolved but the community has stayed the same.

“Our clientele is not lawyers and doctors and teachers, and those educated people. We have farm workers, we have the packing house worker, and we have the domestic worker. We have parents who are well-far oriented, we just have a make-up that a lot of schools do not have.

Of the almost 500 students who attend the school, almost half come from non-English speaking households.

In order to bring the ‘C’ rated school up, Principal Eddie Hundley decided to look at a new direction.

“The district is doing a fantastic job at meeting the needs of the majority of the students. However, when you have outliers just like when you have students that love the arts, you can’t give them enough arts in the public school setting, but when they create a charter school, they specialize in that. Those kids get their needs met, no difference here,” Hundley said.

The school voted to become a charter school by the 2018-2019 school year. They hope that by customizing the curriculum, the school will continue to see the progress they strive for.

The school board will have its final vote on Aug. 22 to decide whether Lincoln Memorial Middle will become a charter school.