East Coweta Middle School has been named a 2014 Distinguished Breakout School by the Georgia Association of Secondary School Principals (GASSP). The Breakout School distinction – bestowed on only five Georgia schools this year – is the highest honor presented by the GASSP organization. The award recognizes Georgia middle schools that are high achieving or show dramatic increases in student achievement.Only three of the five schools were further honored as “Distinguished” Breakout schools, recognizing schools that go beyond the criteria for the award.
East Coweta Middle School was recognized by GASSP at the organization’s conference in Savannah on November 1. The Coweta County Board of Education recognized the school for the honor at their November 11 meeting. Superintendent Steve Barker and Board members congratulated ECMS Principal Dr. Schwanda Jackson and her staff for the honor.
The award is a result of East Coweta Middle’s willingness to “dream big and expect excellence,” said Jackson. “Being named a Breakout school is a well-deserved recognition of the great work of our teachers, staff and students.”
“We have so much going at our school, and it seems like we constantly focus on the work before us and the changes around us,” said Jackson. “I love this opportunity to show the many good things going on at East Coweta Middle. It is a validation that the students and teachers here are doing good work.”
GASSP is an affiliate of the National Association of Secondary School Principals, which works to identify schools throughout the nation that embody best practices for students and schools. Similarly, GASSP’s Breakout Award is designed by the organization to showcase Georgia middle schools that are among the best in the state in terms of student achievement.
According to GASSP, the award is based on evidence of collaborative leadership at the school, personalized attention to all students including mentoring, student opportunity and multiple school and community connections, and strong academic programs including rigorous curriculum, instruction, and assessment for all students, differentiated instruction with multiple student assessments, data-driven decision making, and opportunities for career development. Beyond those criteria, innovations such as East Coweta Middle’s “whole child” approach to education, advanced student programs and community partnerships contribute to the school’s “Distinguished” designation.
“Being selected as one of the five Breakout Schools is a tremendous accomplishment for a school,” said GASSP Board Member Bill Ruma. “Within this group, three schools were chosen as Distinguished schools, including East Coweta Middle. These institutions are the best-of-the-best of Georgia’s high performing middle schools and deserved to be recognized as such. East Coweta is serving their students, faculty and community at a high level and is providing a model for other schools to emulate.”
At Tuesday’s Board meeting, Jackson was accompanied by ECMS Assistant Principals Yovandra Matthews-Curtis and George Wilkerson, as well as Mitch Bailey, who teaches science enrichment through a Physics of Flight course at ECMS, Blaire Boothe, who teaches technology and who has organized Coweta’s only middle school Technology Student Association at ECMS, and special education teachers Erin Hicks and Leslie Bryant, who also coordinate the school’s HOPE program which partners with community civic organizations and churches to support students in need.
“I believe our culture of caring is really what won this award for our school,” said Bailey. “We have some astonishing teachers that meet the needs of the entire child. We all do what it takes to make sure those needs are met, whether it be physically, mentally, financially, or academically.”
“Students work hard because they know we are invested in them,” said Bailey. “We always put the student’s needs first and it is evident through our school culture and academic programs.”
Contact: Dean Jackson
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