Old Shell Road School of Creative and Performing Arts vision includes an arts-infused interdisciplinary approach to a rigorous core curriculum. The school will empower students with the skills of inquiry, expression, and discovery through a variety of learning opportunities. Emphasis will be placed on communication along with critical and creative thinking skills. Students will be afforded opportunities to discover and apply their unique talents and abilities. All stakeholders will serve as role models in promoting the ideals of this vision.
Located at 1706 Old Shell Road, the main building was built in 1915. Community members raised the money to build the auditorium and cafeteria in 1924. The school continued to serve the surrounding neighborhood until it was closed for renovations in 1989. In September of 1989, Old Shell Road School of Creative and Performing Arts was created as one of several magnet schools established in Mobile County to settle the Birdie Mae Davis Racial Discrimination Lawsuit, a long-standing desegregation case in Mobile County. The magnet school continues to enjoy using the historical school building with its high ceilings and original architecture and the auditorium has found new life with the addition of mirrors and a dance floor and is used daily by dance and movement classes. The stage is used for small performances. There is limited playground space and there is no available land for expansion at the present location. Because the building is quite old, there is a need for constant repairs. Since there is no elevator to the second floor, handicapped accessibility is limited. Four portables have been added to the school campus to accommodate additional students and programs. At the present time, there are long range plans to build a new school.
Facts About Old Shell Road
Old Shell Road School of Creative and Performing Arts is a magnet school located in an urban area and the students represent all parts of Mobile County. The faculty and staff are committed to a quality education that includes the arts and the faculty includes specialists in the arts. Members of the faculty believe that children learn in different ways and the arts provide an additional way to help each child reach his potential academically, socially, emotionally, and physically. Old Shell Road is staffed with 28 teachers. Since the school’s focus is the arts, it has always been staffed with specialists with certification or expertise in the arts. Instead of a traditional physical education program, movement is taught. In addition to the classroom teachers, the faculty includes a part time counselor, a librarian, a part time reading teacher, a part time speech teacher, a part time teacher for the gifted, a visual arts teacher, a drama teacher, a dance teacher, a music teacher, and a movement teacher. All teachers are certified, teaching in field, and have highly qualified status. Two faculty members have administrative certification and 74% hold master’s degrees. In addition to the instructors, there is one administrator, a bookkeeper, and a registrar. Old Shell Road has 3 custodians and a cafeteria staff of four that serves breakfast and lunch. The faculty is committed and constantly involved in staff development in the form of advanced education at local universities, district workshops, professional conferences, and in-services and collaboration at the school. Parents are encouraged to attend parent workshops and teacher conferences. The school provides volunteer and paid tutors to assist students who are in danger of failing. The focus of the school is to meet the needs of every individual using the arts and a variety of research-based instructional strategies.
Student and Community Information
The total enrollment of Old Shell Road School of Creative and Performing Arts is 510. Of this student population, males constitute 43.2 % and females constitute 56.8%. Old Shell Road is a magnet school with a racial balance of approximately 50% black and 50% non-black students. Old Shell Road has biracial, Hispanic, and bilingual students. Services for bilingual students are provided through district wide initiatives. Over 61.5% of the students come from low-income families and qualify for free or reduced price lunch. In addition to district and state funding, the school qualifies for Title 1 funds and provides additional assistance to those students from low-income families. In addition, 10% receive special education services in the area of speech/language and 9.8% are in the Gifted Program (PACE). All children attending Old Shell Road School are required to participate in music, art, drama, dance/ movement. The Mobile County Public School System provides teachers for these subjects. Even though Old Shell Road is a magnet school for the arts, the district provides no additional funding for the arts programs. Throughout the years, parents and the community have made contributions of money and supplies to the art programs.
Curriculum of Old Shell Road
The core curriculum is the same as the rest of Mobile County and consists of reading, math, language arts, science, and social studies. In addition to the core curriculum, students are required to participate in visual art, music, drama, dance, and movement classes. Instead of a traditional physical education program with an emphasis on sports, students are required to attend movement and Musical Theater classes which are more closely aligned with the Fine Arts.
Selection and Requirements for Students at Old Shell Road
As a magnet school, Old Shell Road’s purpose is to “attract” students from the countywide area who have an interest in the arts. Students must make a formal application in the spring and are selected randomly by a lottery. Since the faculty at Old Shell Road is dedicated to addressing multiple learning styles with a variety of teaching strategies, Old Shell Road has no auditions or admission tests and does accept students with speech disorders. Once a child is enrolled, they must maintain a yearly average of 70% or above in mathematics, reading, the language arts, and all performing arts classes to be promoted to the next grade level at Old Shell Road. Students receiving a yearly average of 60-69% in reading, language arts, mathematics, or an art class may be promoted to the next grade level in a non-magnet school in the system or repeat the grade at Old Shell Road. A student who fails to achieve a 70% average in reading, language arts, mathematics, and the arts, and 60% or above in all other subjects for 2 years is ineligible to remain at Old Shell Road. Students who achieve a yearly average of 59% or less at Old Shell Road are required to return to their neighborhood school.
Expectations for Parents of Students at Old Shell Road
Parent responsibility and accountability is expected at Old Shell Road Each parent is required to uphold the academic philosophies and requirements, the discipline policies and procedures, and the uniform dress code. Students at Old Shell Road are required to dress in uniform and parents are asked to provide dance shoes in addition to the regular uniform shoes. Since the system provides no transportation to Old Shell Road, parents are required to arrange for transportation. To accommodate parents who may work in the downtown area and commute from other parts of the county, Old Shell Road School opens its doors at 7:00 AM and children can eat breakfast at the school. The city provides after school care on the campus and many children attend day care off campus and are picked up by vans. Both the student and parent sign a contract of agreement, and the signed contracts are kept in the student’s records. Active parent involvement and awareness is solicited to aid in the reduction of problems relating to both behavior and academics. All parents and children attend orientation meetings when a student enrolls. Families are encouraged to participate in PTO and other school activities. In addition to regular school attendance, there are several mandatory performances and parents are required to send their child to these. These performances are open to the public and family and friends fill the auditorium on these occasions.