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4 elementary schools named Title I Reward Schools

Four elementary schools in Bartow County have been recognized as Title I Reward Schools.

The Georgia Department of Education released its 2016-17 lists of Highest-Performing and High-Progress Title I schools earlier this month, and Taylorsville, Clear Creek, White and Cartersville elementary schools were among the honored schools.

Taylorsville claimed a spot on the Highest-Performing Schools list, meaning it’s among the 5 percent of Georgia’s Title I schools with the absolute highest performance for the “all students” group over three years on the statewide assessments.    

Clear Creek, White and Cartersville were named to the High-Progress list, indicating they were among the 10 percent of the state’s Title I schools making the most progress in improving the performance of the “all students” group over three years on the assessments.

Title I provides financial assistance to local educational agencies and schools with high numbers or high percentages of children from low-income families to help ensure that all children meet the challenging state academic standards.

“These schools and districts are working against the odds to provide an excellent education for their students,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said. “This is so much more than numbers or data. We are talking about changed lives for thousands of students. I can’t overstate how proud I am of every teacher, administrator and parent who worked to make that happen.”

Bartow County spokeswoman Cheree Dye said system officials are “thrilled to see the hard work of our staff and students acknowledged.”

“Performing at the top 5 and 10 percent of the state’s Title I schools is a wonderful validation of the learning that is taking place,” she said.

Taylorsville has made the Highest-Performing Schools list each year since 2012, when GaDOE changed its award program from Title I Schools of Distinction to Rewards Schools, according to Principal Dr. Bernadette DiPetta.  

“As principal of this elementary school, when you find out that the GaDOE is recognizing your staff for the hard work you see them do each day, year after year, one could feel nothing less than tremendous pride and excitement,” she said. “Expectations and the demands on teachers have been rapidly changing and becoming more rigorous so when someone on the outside bestows a distinguished award on your school, it is time to pause a moment to celebrate this great accomplishment.”

She added parents and community members are hosting a luncheon for the school staff “to commemorate this achievement and let them know how much they are appreciated.”

Remaining at the top year after year can be attributed to every school employee sharing a “common work ethic to provide our children the very best,” DiPetta said.

“Being named as highest-performance school consecutive years takes a great deal of laser-like focus and a common goal,” she said. “There is no one thing, no recipe other than filling a school with dedicated staff that all share one goal. That goal is to maintain high academic standards and believe that every child will and can be successful.”

The culture of the 525-student school is “also an important ingredient.” DiPetta said.

“There is a strong level of teamwork among teachers across grade levels and departments,” she said.  “Everyone is responsible for providing a safe, clean, supportive, nurturing and rigorous learning environment.”

Finally, the community also is an “intricate part of this school’s success,” the principal said.

“We have wonderful community members/parents and surrounding churches/businesses that offer their support and time,” she said. “Research suggests when children know they are loved and supported, they will work hard to do their best. I am blessed and honored to serve this community, its children and staff. How fortunate could one principal be?”

Clear Creek Principal Dr. Kelly Wade said his school community is “honored to be recognized at the state level for being named a Title I High-Progress School.”

“It is validation for us that we are moving our school in the right instructional direction and doing what is best for our boys and girls,” he said. “I can’t say enough about the professionalism and dedication of our entire staff. Our entire school is based on creating a student-centered learning environment to ensure student growth and success now and for their future. I am honored to be a part of this staff and to have the pleasure of witnessing their dedication on a daily basis.”  

Amy Heater, principal of White Elementary, was “super excited” that her school was named to the High-Progress School list for the second consecutive year.

“The hard work and dedication to excellence is paying off and making a difference,” she said. “I’m so honored to be a member of such an amazing group of staff, students and parents.”

Wade said making the High-Progress list is a “direct result of the hard work and dedication of the entire staff we have” at the school, which has 606 students enrolled.

“They care deeply about each child and work tirelessly for the students and strive to create meaningful relationships with each student to help them succeed academically as well as socially,” he said. “We strive to build a strong foundation for the students so that once they move to the secondary level, they are prepared for the challenges and eventually become a vital member of our society in whatever they decide to do and accomplish.”

Heater said her school “puts students first in all aspects of the school environment.”

“We take pride in focusing on the individual needs of our 601 students,” she said. “Our students aren’t just a number but an important part of our school family and culture. Our teachers use a variety of interventions for at-risk students, as well as enrichment resources, to target and accelerate all levels of learning. Technology has played a critical part in offering individualized instruction for third- through fifth-grade students as well as our after-school tutoring program. Home-to-school connections are vital to our success. Each staff member makes an extra effort to build strong relationships with both the students and their parents.”

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