MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Students and teachers of Chastang-Fournier K-8 welcomed the Governor of Alabama to their gymnasium Wednesday Morning.

In the Fall of 2022, Gov. Kay Ivey launched the turnaround school initiative, designed to help low-performing and understaffed schools. Gov. Ivey’s office chose 15 schools in Alabama to receive the financial help.

“These kids are working hard and they’re coming off of the trouble list so that’s marked improvement and we are proud to celebrate with them,” Governor Kay Ivey said.

Chastang-Fournier is one of the 15 schools, that received $720,000 to provide resources for the school. Previously this school has been failing with a state report card of 50, the most recent report card listed the school as 65.

“We’re gradually making the steady sustainable growth,” Principal, Veronica Coleman said.

With that money, the school is now able to entice certified teachers to join the team with a $6,000 yearly bonus. Classified educators are receiving a $2,000 bonus.

But Coleman said these teachers see it for more than a paycheck.

“Well, honestly, many of the teachers were not here for the money. It’s just for the love and to make a difference,” Coleman said.

With the increase in staff over the past year, students now have the resources to move forward in their academic careers.

The 2023 implementation of the Alabama Literacy Act has thousands of third-grade students across the state at risk of not advancing to the fourth grade. But Chastang-Fournier only has 10 third graders at risk of being held back.

Coleman said its early in the academic school year and there is still time to get these students on track to move to the fourth grade.

“But we have targeted intervention in place again with the governor’s turnaround money I’m able to hire specialized coaches and intervention teachers to come in and work specifically with those students,” Coleman said.

Gov. Ivey says that it is imperative that students learn how to read by the fourth grade.

“We’ve got to have benchmarks for our students to learn to read. Makes no sense, it’s a disservice to students to pass them on without the ability to read,” Gov. Ivey said.

The turnaround initiative has also been able to customize the curriculum based on how these students receive information best. One way is through art.

“For my students, my parents, from surveys, they’re saying that the arts are a big part of who they are. Especially for social and emotional learning,” Coleman said.

Chastang-Fournier K-8 still has a way to go, but Gov. Kay Ivey says that she is proud to see the improvement made so far.

“Oh, that’s the name of the game. We want all our students to succeed and want them to get a quality education so it’s very rewarding to see improvement in their scores in their studies,” Gov. Ivey said.