The Georgia Department of Education has recognized four Coweta County schools as 2015 Title I “Reward Schools.”
Atkinson Elementary School, Elm Street Elementary School, East Coweta Middle School and Smokey Road Middle School were recognized for high levels of student achievement sustained over a three year period. It was the second year of recognition for Elm Street (a 2014 Reward School) and Smokey Road (a 2013 reward school).
The state of Georgia recognizes a small number of Title I schools each year as Reward schools, identifying them as either “High-Progress Schools” or “Highest-Performing Schools,” based on student academic performance.
As high-progress Reward schools, East Coweta Middle, Smokey Road Middle, Atkinson and Elm Street have been recognized among the among the 10 percent of Title I schools in the state, and for showing the greatest progress in improving the performance of the “all students” group over three years on statewide assessments.
East Coweta Middle School Principal Schwanda Jackson said that her faculty and staff were honored to be named as a Reward school. Jackson said that East Coweta has taken a student-centered approach that encourages staff members, parents and students to work together to provide academic opportunities.
The approach means that “all students, regardless of performance level, are challenged at ECMS,” she said. Teachers individualize instruction by identifying academic needs, and encouraging students to participate in school-wide academic support programs like Intercession, Homework Help, Math Remediation, and Grade Repair, and opportunities such as the school’s Physics of Flight course, Technology Student Association, STEM courses, and courses for early high school credit.
“The (Reward) recognition is validating of our hard work and also motivating, as we know our support of students at ECMS is continuous,” said Jackson. “It doesn’t just recognize high achievement, but sustained work and achievement over time, and I think that’s what I’m proudest of.”
“Our dedicated teachers, support staff, administration, and student body are all part of why we are so successful,” said 8th grade math teacher and department chair Greg Anander. “I am proud to be a part of such a great school that I call family.”
Principal Christi Hildebrand said that while she and her staff didn’t expect Elm Street to be named a reward school for the second year in a row, “we are not surprised, because we know how hard we all work together … staff, students, and parents.”
“We are thrilled to know that our efforts are resulting in such growth across all student groups,” said Hildebrand. “Our teachers have very high expectations for each and every one of our students. We are focused on growth and achieving at high levels, no matter where we are starting from. That’s evident in our classrooms day in and day out.”
Smokey Road Middle School principal Keafer Triplett said that the school’s success is rooted in part in the staff’s dedication. “There is a willingness to constantly assess and innovate, and a culture of hard work and commitment that they come to school with every day.”
Reward school recognition “was exciting news, and it came at a great time for all of us,” said Triplett. As new state-wide student assessments are implemented, the recognition “was a reminder that Smokey Road’s faculty and staff have a long track record of helping students succeed and achieve their goals. This school and staff have been successful over a long period of time. They have been recognized for that success time after time, and that is a great motivation for all of us.”
Atkinson Elementary School Principal Latrina Gates said that Atkinson teachers were excited at the news. Reward status, she said, is “confirmation that everyone’s steadfast focus on increasing student achievement has shown recognizable progress.”
Gates said that Atkinson has built student achievement by building positive relationships between the school’s many stakeholders. “We have implemented a Friday’s Friends Advocacy Program where every child is able to connect with an adult in the building. To bridge home and school, we have implemented a Parent University Program that provides resources to parents to support their children at home.”
“We care about our children first” and then build academic success on that foundation, she said. That has included a school-wide academic focus on reading and math fluency in primary grades, on reading comprehension, fractions and multiplication in upper grades, and on an integration of technology and fluent writing skills.
Contact: Dean Jackson
Office of Public Information, Coweta County School System