Key Coverage

The Fight for Fairmount Park Elementary

She applied her “listen-to-me lipstick,” a hot pink that commanded attention, and got into her Toyota 4Runner for the long drive to Fairmount Park Elementary. It was time for some frank talk with the teachers who were struggling in one of Pinellas County’s toughest schools.

Just two years earlier, the squat school tucked between two churches off Fifth Avenue S had been ranked the second-worst elementary school in Florida, based on test scores. It was impoverished and segregated. Too many kids misbehaved, too many teachers came and went. Two principals had tried to turn it around in the past six years and had failed.

Kristy Moody, a former Coast Guard officer who often rose at 4 a.m. to work out, was the latest principal assigned to improve Fairmount Park.