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November 4--  The primary schools in Vidalia and Toombs County showed big improvements in their 2019 performance reports released by the Georgia Department of Education.

In 2018, J.D. Dickerson Primary School had a dismal rating of 44.3, but in 2019, during the last year under Principal Scott Stephens, the school jumped 33 points to a rating of 77.3.  

The new principal at Dickerson, Brenda McLain, has been the assistant principal for the last  14 years and says additions to the curriculum accounted for some of the higher score.

"We had the opportunity to add some extracurricular courses which helped.  We had not had arts and music for several years, but were able to add those back last year and that gave us extra points.  Also, the teachers made sure we were communicating with the community so we could all be on the same page and understand that our mission here is to get them ready and prepared for the next level," she said.

Principal McLain also said the open door policy implemented by Stephens contributed to the five-star school climate rating, "I think people felt like it was great to send their children here and that they were safe when they were here and were learning when they were here, and I attribute a lot of that to that."

Meanwhile, at Lyons Primary School. the performance score jumped eleven points and busted the 80 mark.

Principal Chris Bell says he knows why, "The biggest thing I can say here at  Lyons Primary is that we have a hard working staff that goes above and beyond to try and prepare these students for what comes after the second grade when they leave us.  We're trying to build a strong foundation.  We're not just teaching kids how to read and write and do math, but we're teaching them how to function in a classroom environment and get along with each other.  It's a very challenging job, but we have a building full of people who are up to the challenge."