Growing PainsBy NIKKI ROWELL,
Decade later Germantown Middle School doubles enrollment
When Germantown Middle School opened its doors 10 years ago, there were 470 students enrolled and 40 faculty and staff members.
Today, the school has more than doubled enrollment. Now 1,050 students walk the halls of Germantown Middle, along with 83 faculty and staff members.
Germantown Middle is experiencing the growing pains that come with an influx of people to the area.
Madison County School District is working to address that growth with discussions about how to expand the school, which has already added classrooms, expanded the cafeteria, converted closets and put in trailers for additional classrooms.
Chris Perritt, principal at Germantown Middle, has been the lead principal for five years and has served as an administrator in the school district for eight years.
“I’ve lived in Madison County for 15 years, so I’ve seen the large amount of growth in this area,” Perritt said. “I’ve seen a tremendous boom.”
Perritt said the district has tried to accommodate the growth in the area by adding on six additional classrooms, a state-of-the-art choir room and enlarged the cafeteria.
The school has to have four lunch periods to have enough space for everyone. The awards program at the end of the year had to be changed to three separate programs for each grade, because there was not enough parking or seating to do them all at once.
“We are trying to keep up with the growth,” Perritt said. “Based on the conversations that I have had with the superintendent and the board, they are starting to talk to community leaders, PTO presidents and business leaders on what direction expansion will go in this area,” he said.
Nicole Shows, a sixth-grade science teacher, is in her 25th year of teaching in Madison County School District and has taught at Germantown Middle since the school opened 10 years ago.
Shows said the district has had to get creative with their classrooms.
“We have 10 to 12 trailers now, and we have three or four teachers who float, who do not have either a classroom or a trailer and share a classroom with teachers during their planning block,” Shows said.
Some of the classrooms have 30 or more students at a time, and some closets have been converted into classrooms.
Shows attributes the growth to the schools attracting more residents to the area.
“I was talking to some of my students about how 10 years ago the high school wasn’t there, the gas station wasn’t there, the stoplight wasn’t there,” she said. “So, when you’re talking to 11, 12 and 13-year-olds, they’re like, ‘What? How did you all function without a stoplight?’”
She said that the influx of communities and new subdivisions has been confirmation of the school’s success.
“Seeing the influx of communities and subdivisions means apparently we are doing a good job, because people are wanting to move here. We are continuing to expand,” Shows said. “People know who we are now. It used to be that if you said Germantown then people thought we were in Tennessee. Now, when you mention that you work in Germantown Middle School, people know where you’re talking about.”
Perritt shared Shows’ enthusiasm about the growth in the area and in the school system. He said the community and the school district have a “reciprocal relationship.”
“Great communities create great schools, and great schools create great communities,” Perritt said. “So, I think it works hand-in-hand. The stronger our schools get, the stronger our community gets. The stronger the community gets, the stronger the schools get. They benefit from each other.”
He is proud of the school’s growth and accomplishments over the past 10 years.
“It’s a great honor to be a part of this community and see what great things our kids do as they come through our school,” Perritt said. “What we’ve been able to accomplish in the first 10 years has been amazing.”