By Dedra Cordle
It is difficult to achieve straight A’s on any report card, let alone one whose standards are determined by the state department of education, yet six schools in the South-Western City district managed to accomplish that feat in the 2018-2019 school year.
On Feb. 11, Buckeye Woods Elementary was recognized at the board of education meeting along with Franklin Woods, Galloway Ridge, Holt Crossing, Park Street and Hayes Intermediate Schools for being named the recipients of the state’s Momentum Awards.
The criteria set for the award, said Brad Faust, the district’s assistant superintendent of curriculum, is to have earned straight A’s in all value-added measures on the state report card. In addition to that standard, they also have to have at least two value-added subgroups of students, which include gifted, lowest 20 percent in achievement, and students with disabilities.
To meet the criteria is an arduous task, said district officials, and these schools were able to meet those standards by exceeding expectations in student growth.
Among the recipients of the Momentum Awards were three schools that had previously been recognized and three who were recognized for the first time.
Since the state board of education began recognizing schools with Momentum Awards, Holt Crossing has amassed four, all of them consecutively. They are one of just 69 schools in the state to earn the award for three or more years.
Principal Tyler Winner said the recognition is not something the school takes for granted.
“We are always pushing ourselves and always striving to be better,” he said. “We hold this award in high regard.”
He said one of the greatest factors in achieving student growth is the dedication the staff has to enrich the educational experience of its students. He said he is reminded of that fact each morning.
“When I pull into the parking lot in the morning, I am beat by at least 15 cars,” he said. “It is not an occasional thing, it is an everyday thing.
“We truly have a staff that loves their kids.”
Buckeye Woods and Galloway Ridge received their second Momentum Award.
Angie Chandler, a literacy coach at Buckeye Woods, said the consistency of the staff that is always working toward greater student achievement has been a boon to the school as has the push toward creating an inclusive environment.
“We expect 100 percent kindness in action each day,” she said.
Brittany Budimirovic, the principal at Galloway Ridge, said the implementation of programs such as pizza with a principal and the showcasing of student talent and achievement have all contributed to a more positive and engaging experience for students and staff.
Franklin Woods, Park Street and Hayes Intermediate all received Momentum Awards for the first time.
Park Street Assistant Principal J.D. Johnson said they have fostered an environment where it is acceptable to make mistakes.
“We have a growth mindset in our classroom and with the staff that it is OK to make mistakes,” he said.
The lesson, he added, is that while mistakes are normal, you have to keep pushing on with the desire to learn and to grow as a student, teacher and individual.
At Hayes Intermediate, Principal Michael Nesler said intervention teams are one of the largest contributors to exceeding student growth while Franklin Woods Principal Andy Stotz said it was the commitment to invest in more rigorous curriculum that pushed the school toward greater student achievement. He also noted the implementation of social and emotional programs for staff and students that have been an immense benefit to the school.
In addition to these contributing factors, each school representative said it was the district’s enactment of programs such as I-Ready, a diagnostic tool that offers real-time assessment to teachers regarding a students’ strengths and weaknesses in reading and mathematics, and the encouragement of participation in Teachers College that have propelled them to exceed expectations in student growth.