Failure factories

What’s at stake

Times Photographer Dirk Shadd spent a year following the families of children who have attended south St. Petersburg’s resegregated schools. Here’s a window into the lives of some of the children we interviewed for Part 3 of our series.

Oct. 17, 2015

James Sampson

James Sampson

James Sampson had a dozen different substitutes last year at Melrose Elementary. They taught more than a quarter of his school year. Amid that instability James struggled to learn. He could barely read or do math.

James works out math problems on his fingers as his mother, Tameka Lindsey, helps him with his homework.
Lindsey looks through James’ agenda book.

James struggled with behavior and was suspended. He spent the suspension watching TV at home, missing class time.

This school year, James switched to Campbell Park. His mother walks her children and other students to the school every day. First, she helps her children get ready in the morning.

Lindsey helps her three children and about 12 classmates from their neighborhood cross the street.

Kailel Rohlsen-Jackson

Kailel Rohlsen-Jackson

Kailel Rohlsen-Jackson was the only student at Melrose Elementary to pass the state’s fifth-grade math exam in 2014. That year Melrose was ranked the worst elementary school in Florida by the state Department of Education. He now attends Bay Point Middle School in St. Petersburg.

Kailel talks with his mother, Tawana, who also attended Melrose Elementary.
Kailel with Tawana, his step-father LaTerrion “Terry” Hammons and his brother La’Trayvion, 2, before school.
Kailel prepares to leave for school with Hammons. La’Trayvion tries to go with them.
Kailel arrives at Bay Point Middle in St. Petersburg.

Zariyah and Zaniyah Durant

Zariyah and Zaniyah Durant

Zariyah Durant, 10, and her sister, Zaniyah, 8, used to attend Maximo Elementary. Their mother, Lakita Simmons, said she was concerned about behavior problems and the number of substitute teachers. Zaniyah was kicked in the face while a teacher tried to restrain another child, Simmons said.

Last year Simmons switched them to a private school, The School of the Immaculata, where she says the girls are happier. Here’s a typical day in their new school.

Jina Masters reads to Zariyah and Zaniyah’s class of first, second and third graders.
Zaniyah raises her hand while Zariyah listens, on the right.
Zaniyah (in center), with Masters.

After school, Zaniyah and Zariyah go to karate class at the Sanderlin Center in St. Petersburg.

Zaniyah talks with her mom.

Designed by Martin Frobisher. Contact Dirk Shadd at [email protected].