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2009 MetLife Foundation-NASSP Breakthrough Schools

2009 MetLife Foundation-NASSP Breakthrough Schools


Redesignated in 2013! Arkansas City High School, Arkansas City, KS

Listen to a podcast interview with Principal Marci Shearon 

Redesignation: David Zumwalt, Principal. Arkansas City HS has transtioned from uysing outside experts to their own skilled teacher-leaders to coordinate, plan and lead professional learning, including Common Core training and a teacher-led technology camp. Investment in staff learning has been instrumental in sustaining their status as an exemplary Breakthrough School.

Original Designation: Ms. Marci Shearon, Principal. Although over 50% of its 9-12 students are living in poverty, this highly involved rural community is committed to offering access to college to every student. The belief that the students are at the center of the community has resulted in strong student academic performance, with the entire school community working closely together to assure this success. This school of 811 students enjoys a four-year 87% cohort graduation rate.

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Stelle Claughton Middle School, Houston TX

Listen to a podcast interview with Principal Delic Loyde 

Ms. Delic Loyde, Principal. This 6-8 suburban school of 1500 believes that excellence is about creating an environment for each student to succeed. To achieve this goal, the entire staff shares leadership responsibilities, while the students and community also have a voice. Although there are challenges with 74% of its population eligible for the Free or Reduced Meals program, high expectations have been set. The school has more than met those expectations and believes the goal of college for every student is attainable.

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Redesignated in 2013! Crockett County High School, Alamo, TN

Listen to a podcast interview with Principal Steve Ramsey 

Redesignation: Jared Foust, Principal. A robust reading and writing program that has students begin every day reading and write an argumentative essay every week earns Crockett County HS an enthusiastic redesignation.

Original Designation: Mr. Steve Ramsey, Principal. In danger of being taken over by the state, the teachers at this rural 9-12 school of 819, with 50% of its students eligible for the Free or Reduced Meals program, led a successful change effort resulting in a collaborative process focused on student achievement, graduation and preparation for life. Knowing that the achievement of each individual student is important, the school became a model of collaboration and personalization and the level of success on the state exams demonstrates the results of this philosophy.

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Giano Intermediate School, West Covina, CA
Dr. Patricia Cuesta, Principal. Several years ago, a mandate was issued to this urban, 7-8 school to increase parent involvement, address school improvement and cut staff turnover. Undeterred by the challenge of 82% of its students living in poverty, a collaborative effort was undertaken to open the school to the community and motivate the staff to do an analysis of student performance to meet rising state standards. The newest staff members brought fresh ideas, veteran staff became mentors, parents became partners and the 852 students became winners.

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Redesignated in 2013! Loris High School, Loris, SC

Listen to a podcast interview with Principal Trevor Strawderman

Resignation: Dirk Gurley, Principal. Delivering access to a wide variety of AP programs, student supports, and career programs has ensured the continued success of Loris HS.

Original Designation: Mr. Trevor Strawderman, Principal. With a Free or Reduced Meals eligibility rate of 73%, this rural 9-12 school of 884 is a turn-around success story. Ranking near the bottom of state high schools several years ago, systematic changes required strong leadership and focused teaching. School-wide, literacy instruction was implemented along with professional learning communities and differentiated instructional strategies. Results are impressive: less retention, fewer drop-outs, high exam pass rates, increased graduation rates, and a school ranking near the top of all high schools in SC.

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Redesignated in 2013! Seaford Middle School, Seaford, DE

Listen to a podcast interview with Principal Stephanie Smith

Redesignation: Kimberly Simmons, Principal. Structured meetings that help students identify where they are, where they want to be, and what needs to happen to get there provide detailed, actionable plans for student improvement at Seaford Middle School.

Original Designation: Mrs. Stephanie Smith, Principal. In tackling its "needs improvement" designation for this 6-8 rural school of 791 with 62% of the students living in poverty, the staff turned to a model of distributive leadership, now imprinted on every aspect of the school's programs. This thrust was coupled with a focus on changing the climate through a reward system for appropriate student behavior. Equally important, staff turn-over has decreased dramatically. The overall results include improved student achievement, a more positive climate and increased outreach to parents and community.

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Redesignated in 2013! Douglas Taylor School, Chicago, IL

Listen to a podcast interview with Principal William Truesdale

Dr. William Truesdale, Principal. Douglas Taylor School's commitment to improving reading and writing among its students provides an admirable example for other Pre-K through 8 schools to follow.

This school's unusual structure - 770 students in Pre-K through grade 8 - allows for planning by grade level based on the belief that all students can achieve academic excellence. As a part of this vision, grade level meetings are held to review student data and discuss instructional strategies. With 97% of its students eligible for the Free or Reduced Meals program and a 88% Hispanic population, the staff has created school-wide literacy and math programs as part of the academic focus.

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Redesignated in 2013! Theodore High School, Theodore, AL

Listen to a podcast interview with Principal Ronnie Rowell

Mr. Ronnie Rowell, Principal. Theodore HS maintains a commitment to frequent data analysis to drive its educational policies and practices in informed ways. Redesigniation is awarded for its teaching and learning practices, which transcend prescribed curriculum.

Located in a rural area, this 9-12 school of nearly 1600 students is one of the largest in Mobile County and has approximately 50% eligibility for the Free or Reduced Meals program. Theodore's instructional design centers around the use of data to improve student performance combined with a rigorous curriculum, diversified methods of learning, and the involvement of all stakeholders giving students the skills and tools needed to succeed in tomorrow's world.

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Daniel Webster Middle School, Waukegan, IL

Listen to a podcast interview with Principal Joan Brixey

Dr. Joan Brixey, Principal. Nearly 650 students - 84% Free or Reduced Meal program eligible - attend this 6-8 urban school. Pride is a key word encompassing not just the improvements recently made to the physical plant, but also the attention given to student achievement. Action has been taken to involve more staff members in leadership roles in the school's initiatives. School wide teams have been formed in the categories of operations, teaching and learning, and data analysis resulting in improved student achievement.

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Redesignated in 2013! Withrow University High School, Cincinnati, OH

Listen to a podcast interview with Principal Sharon Johnson

Ms. Sharon Johnson, Principal. A school combination that nearly doubled the student population of Withrow University HS hasn't stopped the school from continuing to improve. AP offerings and college dual-enrollment classes have helped the school maintain its commitment to ensuring students pursue additional education and/or training after completing high school.

The focus of this school of 720 students is on providing a quality college preparatory program by offering gender-specific classes designed to remediate skill deficiencies and prepare the students for higher level courses. Although not a selective high school - over 60% of its students qualify for the Free or Reduced Meals program - every student is expected to attend college or a post-secondary program. To that end, the school provides the support necessary to see that they are successful.

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