November 15, 2012

Bob Farrace, NASSP

Peggy Atherlay, MetLife

MetLife Foundation and NASSP Honor Breakthrough Schools
Despite challenges of poverty, 10 schools make remarkable gains

Reston, VA—Ten schools are being recognized for their academic successes through the 2013 MetLife Foundation-NASSP Breakthrough Schools program. The schools will be honored at NASSP's Ignite 2013 Conference in National Harbor, MD, February 28-March 2. Established in 2007, the MetLife Foundation-NASSP Breakthrough Schools program recognizes middle level and high schools that are high achieving or dramatically improving student achievement and serve large numbers of students living in poverty.

"This year's class of Breakthrough Schools represents how an uncompromised focus on the things that really matter leads to sustained school improvement," said NASSP Executive Director JoAnn Bartoletti. "Collaborative leadership, a personalized environment, and careful attention to what is taught and how it is assessed—hallmarks of the Breaking Ranks Framework—apply in all school contexts, and the 2013 Breakthrough Schools provide us success stories that illustrate that diversity."

"Effective education depends on collaboration," said Dennis White, president and CEO of MetLife Foundation. "In distinctive ways, the principals of the Breakthrough Schools have demonstrated the type of leadership that helps teachers, parents, students, and communities work together to succeed."

The 2013 MetLife Foundation-NASSP Breakthrough Schools are:

  • Christel House Academy, Indianapolis, IN, Carey Dahncke, principal
  • Clarke Central High School, Athens, GA, Robbie P. Hooker, principal
  • Fossil Ridge Intermediate School, St. George, UT, Bob Sonju, principal
  • Gervais High School, Gervais, OR, Mike Solem, principal
  • Native American Community Academy, Albuquerque, NM, Kara Bobroff, principal
  • Norview High School, Norfolk, VA, Marjorie Stealey, principal
  • San Ysidro High School, San Diego, CA, Hector Espinoza, principal
  • Scott Morgan Johnson Middle School, McKinney, TX, Mitchell Curry, principal
  • Southmoreland Middle School, Scottdale, PA, Vincent Mascia, principal
  • Trenton R-IX High School, Trenton, MO, Dan Wiebers, principal.

Each of these schools made gains in academic achievement by providing rigorous instruction and personalizing their schools to meet the needs of each and every student. Their principals have proven that with strong leadership, sufficient time, and a clear focus, urban, rural, and suburban high-poverty schools can be successful.

Selection criteria for the award 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 made progress toward reducing the achievement gap. Success in implementing the strategies is documented and verified through school site visits.

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


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 SocietyNational Junior Honor SocietyNational 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