“These schools are shining examples of what we can achieve in public education in Georgia,” State School Superintendent John Barge said in a press release. “I want to take what’s working at our Reward Schools and replicate that in every school in the state. These are the schools making education work for all Georgians.”
According to the press release, a Highest-Performing School must have made Adequate Yearly Progress for the “all students” group and all of its subgroups in 2011. A school may not be classified as a Highest-Performing School if there are significant achievement gaps across subgroups that are not closing in the school.
The category is reserved for schools with the highest performance or the biggest academic gains by students in the last three years.
Principal Bernadette DiPetta said she was excited when she was informed of the school being part of the list.
“We quickly worked with our [Parent-Teacher Organization] and our business partner Plant Bowen and put together a duty-free lunch for our faculty and staff,” DiPetta said.
She said reaching goals within the school is an annual process, with each year requiring greater effort.
“I really think that every year as we write our school improvement plan and look at the previous year, and we spend a lot of time doing that, we make our goals to be higher than the previous year’s data set and we look at that every single year,” DiPetta said. “We’ve achieved ‘this level,’ how do we reach the next level.”
She thanked the efforts of faculty and staff, adding, “I am fortunate enough to serve in an outstanding community where the parents are supportive, the children work very hard, and all of my staff works even harder.”
The school’s Teacher of the Year, Leisa Boulanger, said meeting and superceding goals set by the school begins by making a connection with students and helping them feel successful.
“I think as a staff we let the children know No. 1 that they’re the most important reason we’re here and we ensure that they feel that — you’ve got to make a connection with the child before you can expect them to be motivated or even expect them to do what you ask,” Boulanger said. “After you make that connection, it opens their hearts and their minds for you and once they make that connection with you, they’re successful ... and if they don’t get it, you find ways.”
She reiterated DiPetta’s sentiments that having successful students requires the efforts of all employees in the school.
“I know it kind of looks like the classroom teachers are the only people who make a high performing school, but nothing could be further from the truth,” Boulanger said. “Our administrative staff here is second to none and I even want to say our front office staff is also part of the reason we’re successful — you have no idea how much we rely on them.”
Superintendent John Harper, Bartow County Board of Education Chairman Davis Nelson and board member John Howard attended Tuesday’s luncheon.
“What an outstanding honor for that school and that staff, I’m really very pleased with Dr. DiPetta’s leadership there,” Harper said. “[The luncheon] was a great opportunity to spend time with those teachers and celebrate the good, hard work they have done.”
He added, “What an honor for the community to have Taylorsville recognized in that manner.”