November 15, 2011

Bob Farrace, NASSP, 703-860-7257

Peggy Atherlay, MetLife, 212-578-1525

MetLife Foundation and NASSP Honor Ten High-Performing Schools
Middle and high school winners succeed despite challenges of student poverty

Reston, VATen schools are being recognized for their academic successes through the 2012 MetLife Foundation-NASSP Breakthrough Schools program. The schools will be honored at the 2012 NASSP Breaking Ranks K-12 Conference in Tampa, FL, March 8-10, 2012.

Established in 2007, the MetLife Foundation-NASSP Breakthrough Schools program awards middle level and high schools that are high achieving or dramatically improving student achievement and serve large numbers of students living in poverty. Selection criteria are based on a school’s documented success in implementing strategies that are aligned with the three core areas of NASSP’s Breaking Ranks Framework including collaborative leadership; personalization; and curriculum, instruction, and assessment. These schools have demonstrated continuous growth on state assessments over at least three years and efforts toward reducing the achievement gap. Success in implementing the strategies is documented and verified through school site visits.

“The 10 MetLife Foundation-NASSP Breakthrough Schools have demonstrated significant and sustained improvement among students who are impacted by poverty and all of its associated issues,” said NASSP Executive Director JoAnn Bartoletti. “It is important to note that steady growth and reduction of gaps are significant criteria for identifying and recognizing these schools as opposed to making AYP, a designation not based on national standards.”

“Effective education is a collaborative venture,” added Dennis White, president and CEO of MetLife Foundation. “We commend the principals of these Breakthrough Schools for providing the type of leadership that helps teachers, parents, students, and communities work together to succeed.” 

The 2012 MetLife Foundation-NASSP Breakthrough Schools:

  • Bloomfield High School, Bloomfield, NJ, Christopher Jennings, principal
  • Lafayette Academy Charter School, New Orleans, LA, Mickey Landry, head of school
  • Lesher Middle School, Fort Collins, CO, Tom Dodd, principal
  • Oscar F. Smith Middle School, Chesapeake, VA, Linda Scott, principal
  • Pierce County High School, Blackshear, GA, Anthony Smith, principal
  • The Preuss School, LaJolla, CA, Scott Barton, principal
  • Vallivue Middle School, Caldwell, ID, Rod Lowe, principal
  • Wade-Hampton High School, Greenville, SC, Lance Radford, principal
  • West Carter Middle School, Olive Hill, KY, Ryan Tomolonis, principal
  • Woodbridge Middle School, Woodbridge, VA, Skyles Calhoun, principal.

The leaders of these schools have proven that with strong leadership, sufficient time, and a clear focus, urban, rural, and suburban high-poverty schools can be successful. Given the 2014 ESEA deadline for 100% proficiency, principals are feeling the pressure for all student subgroups to demonstrate proficiency. Increasingly, schools are struggling to achieve adequate yearly progress (AYP). Many school districts and states are requesting an ESEA waiver. The 2012 MetLife Foundation-NASSP Breakthrough Schools have made gains in academic achievement by providing rigorous instruction and personalizing their schools to meet the needs of each and every student.

For more information about the program and the selected schools, visit

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NASSP is the leading organization of and national voice for middle level and high school principals, assistant principals, and all school leaders from across the United States and more than 45 countries around the world. The association provides research-based professional development and resources, networking, and advocacy to build the capacity of middle level and high school leaders to continually improve student performance. Reflecting its longstanding commitment to student leadership development as well, NASSP administers the National Honor Society, National Junior Honor Society, National Elementary Honor Society, and National Association of Student Councils.

About MetLife Foundation
MetLife Foundation is committed to building a secure future for individuals and communities worldwide, through a focus on empowering older adults, preparing young people and building livable communities. In education, it seeks to strengthen public schools through effective teaching and collaborative leadership, and to prepare students for access to and success in higher education, particularly during the crucial first year. The Foundation’s grantmaking is informed by findings from the annual MetLife Survey of the American Teacher. More information is available at