What Makes Dunbar Elementary School Special
By Tena Mitchell
Dunbar Elementary School is placed in the heart of the Mechanicsville Community. It was founded in 1967 and opened its doors in 1969. The school was named after the famous poet, Paul Laurence Dunbar, one of the first African-American poets to gain national eminence. Born in 1872 in Dayton, Ohio, he was the son of ex-slaves and classmate to Orville Wright of aviation fame. Although he only lived 33 years, Dunbar was prolific, writing short stories, novels, librettos, plays, songs and essays as well as the poetry for which he became well known. He was popular with black and white readers of his day, and his works are celebrated today by scholars and school children alike. His style encompasses two distinct voices—the Standard English of the classical poet and the evocative dialect of the turn-of-the-century black community in America.
Over the years our school has been a light of hope for students, parents and community members. The school, in fact, was the focus of the Philadelphia-based Annenberg Foundation’s turnaround efforts in the Mechanicsville community. Dunbar Elementary has been infused with new found optimism, punctuated by an increase in parental involvement, a new academic program and test scores that are certainly beginning to rise. The school has met the requirements under the federal No Child Left Behind Act for the past six years. Dunbar was also recognized as a Co-nect National Demonstration School of Excellence. Today, we are proud that our students and teachers are demonstrating excellence in learning and teaching. During the school year of 2007-2008, Dunbar received a Silver Award for the Greatest Gains for Students Meeting and Exceeding Standards from the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement.