2009 Breakthrough Schools

Arkansas City High School – Redesignated in 2013
Arkansas City, KS
David Zumwalt, Principal
Arkansas City High School has transitioned from using outside experts to using 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: Marci Shearon, Principal. Although over 50 percent of its grade 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 ensure this success. This school of 811 students enjoys a four-year, 87 percent cohort graduation rate.

Stelle Claughton Middle School
Houston TX
Delic Loyde, Principal
This grade 6-8 suburban school of 1,500 students 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 percent of its population eligible for the free or reduced-price 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.

Crockett County High School – Redesignated in 2013
Alamo, TN
Jared Foust, Principal
A robust reading and writing program that has students begin every day reading and writing an argumentative essay earns Crockett County an enthusiastic redesignation. Original Designation: Steve Ramsey, Principal. In danger of being taken over by the state, the teachers at this rural grade 9-12 school of 819-with 50 percent of its students eligible for the free or reduced-price 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.

Giano Intermediate School
West Covina, CA
Patricia Cuesta, Principal
Several years ago, a mandate was issued to this urban grade 7-8 school to increase parent involvement, address school improvement, and cut staff turnover. Undeterred by the challenge of 82 percent 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.

Loris High School – Redesignated in 2013
Loris, SC
Dirk Gurley, Principal
Delivering access to a wide variety of AP programs, student supports, and career programs has ensured the continued success of Loris High School. Original Designation: Trevor Strawderman, Principal. With a free or reduced-price meals eligibility rate of 73 percent, this rural grade 9-12 school of 884 is a turnaround success story. Ranking near the bottom of state high schools several years ago, systematic changes required strong leadership and focused teaching. Schoolwide literacy instruction was implemented along with professional learning communities and differentiated instructional strategies. The 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.

Seaford Middle School – Redesignated in 2013
Seaford, DE
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: Stephanie Smith, Principal. In tackling its “needs improvement” designation for this grade 6-8 rural school of 791 students with 62 percent 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 turnover has decreased dramatically. The overall results include improved student achievement, a more positive climate, and increased outreach to parents and community.

Douglas Taylor School –  Redesignated in 2013
Chicago, IL
William Truesdale, Principal
Douglas Taylor School’s commitment to improving reading and writing among its students provides an admirable example for other PreK through 8 schools to follow.
This school’s unusual structure 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 percent of its students eligible for the free or reduced-price meals program and an 88 percent Hispanic population, the staff has created schoolwide literacy and math programs as part of the academic focus.

Theodore High School – Redesignated in 2013
Theodore, AL
Ronnie Rowell, Principal
Theodore High School 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. Original Designation: Located in a rural area, this grade 9¬-12 school of nearly 1,600 students is one of the largest in Mobile County and has around a 50 percent eligibility for the free or reduced-price 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.

Daniel Webster Middle School
Waukegan, IL
Joan Brixey, Principal
Nearly 650 students-84 percent of which are eligible for the free or reduced-price meal program-attend this grade 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. Schoolwide teams have been formed in the categories of operations, teaching and learning, and data analysis-resulting in improved student achievement.

Withrow University High School – Redesignated in 2013
Cincinnati, OH
Sharon Johnson, Principal
A school combination that nearly doubled the student population of Withrow University High School 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. Original Designation: 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 percent of its students qualify for the free or reduced-price meals program), every student is expected to attend college or a postsecondary program. To that end, the school provides the support necessary to see that they are successful.