About a year ago, Riverton Community School received what looked like bad news.

It was on a list of the 10 persistently low-performing schools in Maine that participate in the Title I program for disadvantaged students.

But the bad news came with an opportunity: The 10 schools were offered a significant influx of federal funds if the district was willing to undergo aggressive school reform measures.

To their credit, Portland and the staff at Riverton took the challenge and are already starting to see some results. The school that found itself on an embarrassing list could become a model for the way that all of the city’s elementary schools operate.

A focus of the reform efforts has been engaging children in enrichment activities that take place outside the school day. Kids are choosing to stay after school to participate in photography, architecture and charting their own genealogies. They are applying what they learn in school while learning another important lesson – that learning can be exciting and fun.

The after-school programs are just part of the improvement process. Teachers have been given special training, especially in teaching writing, and are already seeing results in their students’ work.

The changes are coming fast – too fast, say some teachers – but even that is a good problem to have.

A child’s education is over so quickly, so it’s important for educators to act quickly when they get an opportunity like this.

We look forward to seeing what Riverton does with the next two years of this improvement program.