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2017 CLAS Schools of Distinctions and Banner Schools

State School Board District 1 Schools of Distinction

  • Foley High School


    School of Distinction AwardBaldwin County Schools

    Principal, Mr. Russ Moore

    Superintendent, Mr. Eddie Tyler

    In the Fall of 2015, twenty- four freshmen were selected as part of Foley High School’s inaugural #Success program. These students were selected due to tremendous adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) that categorized them as being “highly at risk” of not graduating high school. Through the program, students were paired with a faculty mentor, a success coach, who coached them throughout their high school career. Students met with success coaches on alternating days to review grades, discipline, attendance, and most importantly, to discuss other issues the students were experiencing that could be barriers to academic success. Success coaches also built relationships with the students’ families and offered connections to family services in the community.  As success coaches advocated for the students, they taught students to self-advocate appropriately with teachers regarding grades. Twenty #Success students graduated in May 2019 giving the program a 91.6% success rate of graduating high-risk students. After graduation, #Success students pursued post-secondary education, industry-training programs, military, and working with local businesses in the tourism and hospitality industry. Foley High School’s #Success program provided opportunities for the school’s most at-risk students to have intensive guidance and support from caring teachers which resulted in a higher graduation rate.

  • Gulf Shores High School

    Culinary Arts: Visiting Chef Series

    School of Distinction AwardGulf Shores City Schools

    Principal, Mrs. Cindy Veazey

    Superintendent, Dr. Matt Akin

    The Visiting Chef Series at Gulf Shores High School was developed to create and improve community stakeholder relations while providing students the opportunity to learn from and work with world-class chefs in the local area. Bi-monthly during Focus hour, interested students attended demonstrations by visiting chefs, asked questions, and tasted the prepared dishes. During scheduled class time, chefs also taught students skills involved in preparing the demo dish or worked collaboratively with students to prepare another dish. Chefs shared experiences in competitive food, food-related travel, changing career paths, education, and time management with students. All chefs stressed the importance of finding one’s passion in determining a career path. Many of the chefs involved in the Series partnered with Gulf Shores High School to serve on the Advisory Board and provided job shadowing opportunities to students. Through the Visiting Chef Series, student participation in the Apprenticeship Signing Day via the Gateway Initiative, South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce, and Coastal Business Chamber increased significantly. As a culminating product of the program, the students and Chef Madsen collaborated with a few visiting chefs to plan and prepare an end-of-the-year multi-course tasting at a local venue.

  • Katherine Hankins Middle School


    Banner School Award LogoMobile County Schools

    Principal, Mr. David Diaz

    Superintendent, Mr. Chresal Threadgill

    Industry collaboration and financial backing allowed Katherine Hankins Middle School to create its Robotics program which includes a state-of-the-art classroom consisting of Vex Robotics, 3D printers, computer science technology, computer-aided drafting software, an engineering area, and a challenge arena. Through industry partnerships, Hankins also added drone purchases and a construction room which safely houses a drill press, band saws, drills, and hand tools. During daily robotics class rotations, students used design software to plan and construct robots, create video games complete with 3D images of game pieces and characters, and fly drones. With this enhanced technology, students were given two real-world problems to solve. Tasked with investigating the numerous types of plastic pollutants located within the five ocean gyres, students created a robot that could remove the debris and sort plastics for recycling. Robots were required to travel a suspended board located five foot off the floor without falling off, collect debris from a circle-shaped basket resembling an ocean gyre, and sort the plastics for recycling. Secondly, students programmed robots to construct an airplane. The robot had to assemble and align four pre-constructed plane pieces, take it to the runway, lift it five feet, and attach it to a suspended magnet. Robots were advertised using student-created HTML web pages and showcased at the Jubilee Best Robotics competition.

  • Straughn High School

    Art Guild

    School of Distinction AwardCovington County Schools

    Principal, Mr. Matt Cobb

    Superintendent, Mr. Shannon Driver

    The Art Guild at Straughn High School was established by a group of forward-thinking students who desired to change the culture of their school to be more inclusive of those interested in visual and performing arts. The Guild began by identifying the school’s arts education needs. Once identified, a grant was written and awarded which funded a strings teacher, theater staging, dance instructor, and the school’s first art show. The Guild’s success attracted the attention of other schools in the system and led to the establishment of the Art Leadership Academy and the Covington Art Initiative Collaborative Musical. Covington County students from every high school and many middle schools participated in the collaborative musical with huge success. This student-led organization also implemented a combined research and art project to honor Alabama’s Bicentennial by creating a giant county outline of the state with a painted scene of each county’s history within each county. Additionally, the Guild contracted with the Alabama Shakespeare Festival to bring the traveling production, As You Like It, to Straughn High. The actors worked with drama students and exposed other students to non-performance theater careers. The Arts Guild successes witnessed marginalized and unincluded students blossom into school leaders with an increased desire to come to school each day.

State School Board District 2 Schools of Distinction

  • Horseshoe Bend School


    School of Distinction AwardTallapoosa County Schools

    Principal, Mr. James Aulner

    Superintendent, Mr. Joe Windle

    Horseshoe Bend School’s PowerUP! program began with the goal to advance the academic growth of its elementary students. Horseshoe Bend looked at student data from the first collection period and grouped students by ability to strategically target how to improve each group. All staff at the school from the P.E. coach to the Assistant Principals were given a small group of students to work with throughout the year. Dedicated time for PowerUP! was set each morning from 7:45 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. The tone for the day was set by playing different songs to “call” students to PowerUP! and students responded happily by singing and dancing as they moved to their groups. The key to the program’s success was evidenced in the fluidity of the groups. When students improved, they moved to a more advanced group. Teachers and students became protective of this time and scheduled appointments around PowerUP! which increased student growth and reduced the school’s chronic attendance rate. This program allowed Horseshoe Bend School to address every student’s strength and/or academic weakness in Math and/or Reading through targeted instruction based on specific need. Summative test data indicated substantial growth from the beginning to the end of the 2018-2019 school year.

  • Reeltown Elementary School


    Banner School Award LogoTallapoosa County Schools

    Principal, Mr. Raymond Porter

    Superintendent, Mr. Joe Windle

    REELTIME was implemented by Reeltown Elementary School as a designated intervention time. Reflected in the daily master schedule, this thirty to forty-five minute protected instructional block allowed teachers to address individual student needs in multiple subject areas. To address diverse learners, a variety of instructional programs and strategies were used with instruction delivered in whole group, small group, and individual settings using technology and/or face-to-face student-teacher interaction. Students were grouped based on achievement data and specificity of skills being taught to ensure the effectiveness of provided interventions. Student groups were fluid and changed based on ongoing progress monitoring by the school-based Problem Solving Team (PST). Progress was closely monitored by the PST to ensure each student responded to the intervention. This proactive approach provided a framework for the school’s Response to Intervention (RtI) which combined elements of core instruction, intervention strategies, and the analysis of progress monitoring. For successful implementation, all faculty and staff contributed. For example, science, social studies, and math teachers, along with the counselor, media specialist, and instructional coaches provided reading intervention. In addition, REELTIME was provided at optimal times specific to each grade level. The benefits of REELTIME were exhibited in increased student test scores and attendance.

State School Board District 3 Schools of Distinction

  • Charles R. Drew Middle School

    Recycling in Drew (RID)

    School of Distinction AwardTalladega County Schools

    Principal, Mr. Tim Young

    Superintendent, Dr. Suzanne Lacey

    D3-Charles R. Drew Middle School

    Charles R. Drew Middle School set up a 7th-grade project-based learning (PBL) project designed to challenge students to create solutions to today’s urgent environmental problem: reducing plastic pollution in waterways. Through this cross-curricular PBL project, students learned about the human impact on local and global ecosystems, the history and use of plastic production, the impact of plastic ingestion on animals, and the chemical impact of plastic on plants. Through research, collaboration, and creativity, students developed practical solutions by completing different project components in each content area. This PBL influenced a group of students to implement, Recycling in Drew (RID). These students researched the impact a recycling program could make, gathered information on area recycling companies, and presented their idea to the principal. Impressed, administrators contacted the researched companies, and recycling bins were delivered. Daily, students were seen pushing large, green recycling bins around the cafeteria during lunch and breaks and emptying small, blue classroom recycling bins. Collection efforts resulted in 954 pounds of paper and plastic in one year. RID students also shared the importance of recycling with the mayor and city council members in Lincoln. The mayor responded by adding ten recycling bins to city buildings. As a result, students witnessed how successful collaboration, research, and a thoroughly planned and written proposal can spark a change not only in their school but also in the community.


  • Creek View Elementary School

    Jumpstart Summer Enrichment

    School of Distinction AwardAlabaster City Schools

    Principal, Mrs. Charissa Cole

    Superintendent, Dr. Wayne Vickers

    Creek View Elementary School began the Jumpstart Summer Enrichment program to combat the summer reading slide among their most at-risk students. All students served in the Warrior Support Team (WST) process and not at benchmark at the end of the year were invited to get a “Jumpstart” on the upcoming year. Fifty students were invited and forty-five participated. Teachers and administrators attended multisensory phonics training and oral reading development during the summer of 2019 to enhance reading instruction and support for all students. Prior to beginning Jumpstart, ten teachers met in the summer to analyze each student’s reading and math portfolios and plan lessons tailored to each child’s specific strengths and weaknesses. Jumpstart enrichment occurred on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday for three weeks prior to the beginning of the 2019 school year. Each session was 2 hours long, providing students with 18 hours of enrichment at no cost to their family. The voluntary program format was designed to be fun and rewarding. Students rotated through stations which provided multisensory Orton-Gillingham phonics instruction, reading strategies with highly engaging topics (Sharks!), and real-life math scenarios. August WST meetings showed Jumpstart students maintained or increased reading levels. Data compiled after the first nine weeks evidenced a sharp increase in benchmarked students.

  • Lincoln Elementary School


    School of Distinction AwardTalladega County Schools

    Principal, Mr. Jesse Hooks

    Superintendent, Dr. Suzanne Lacey

    At Lincoln Elementary School (LES), RockStar PE was developed to enhance social and physical development for special education students. Four rotations of leadership team students joined special education students for RockStar PE classes. Prior to each rotation of student leaders, an orientation was held by the special and physical education departments where students learned about the variety of challenges of the special education students. As RockStar students progressed through the course, they gained real-world skills to eventually lead to a larger setting of organized sports. Rather than competitive games, the class focused on creative games that succeed only when a team works together. Leaving a team member behind is never an option. Community partnerships and grants increased opportunities for Lincoln students, improved the school culture, and led to a student-led campaign to raise money for a hand-pedaled bike to provide equal opportunity for a disabled student. RockStar PE fueled teachers to provide quality instruction and find creative ways to inspire LES students. The program also challenged students to think critically, collaborate with peers, and hone skills physically and emotionally. The small class size of RockStar PE allowed special education students to be engaged with responsible students without feeling different or singled out.

  • Lincoln High School

    Tiny House - Big Dreams

    Banner School Award LogoTalladega County Schools

    Principal, Mr. Michael Bynum

    Superintendent, Dr. Suzanne Lacey

    Tiny House-Big Dreams at Lincoln High School was created with the goal of allowing students to learn key employability skills such as time management, construction site management, leadership, and collaboration in a real-world setting. Students were introduced to building and construction through field trips to top-quality tiny home manufacturers in the state. Students took part in an embedded Engineering Design Process by brainstorming, planning, and developing drafts for the construction of a tiny home. Classes held Skype sessions with the architect who drew the house plans, allowing them to participate in the design process, and review blueprints. To develop the skills necessary for construction, students went through NCCER Core Certification and passed safety assessments. Once certified for safety, students engaged in smaller projects designed to acquire skills needed to complete the tiny house. These projects included designing and building shooting houses and storage sheds with completed projects sold and proceeds put towards tiny house materials and supplies. From this, students gained experience in sales and customer relations. Blueprints were amended and passed inspection. A production manual was produced and approved, and a new technical career pathway was developed with a tiny house well underway! The tiny house will be marketed by the Sales and Promotional planning class and sold with all proceeds being used to build a second tiny house.


State School Board District 4 Schools of Distinction

  • Eastwood Middle School

    Kingdom Principles

    School of Distinction AwardTuscaloosa City Schools

    Principal, Mr. Eric Hines

    Superintendent, Dr. Mike Daria

    Kingdom Principles was begun at Eastwood Middle School as a proactive measure to reduce excessive out-of-school suspensions. Eight character principles were introduced and teachers incoporated them into daily instruction. Eastwood implemented an advisory and club system where students discussed personal and academic growth and demonstrated each principle among a supportive, collaborative, family-like team. Motivational speakers reiterated the principles through the lens of successful community liaisons who were once in similar situations. The PTSA exemplified each principle by rewarding students for achievement. Adopt-a-school partners and other community agencies were secured and utilized. Leaders from every job sector in the greater Tuscaloosa area spoke at length with seventh graders about economics, the workforce, and being successful. Sixth graders participated in a stock market challenge that paralleled the concept of economic empowerment. Restorative Justice was implemented as a means of forging unity, integrity, and faith in oneself. Eastwood counselors conducted small group conversations centered around appropriate social interactions. Students who had experienced trauma were afforded an opportunity to meet with a mental health expert on campus to express feelings and learn to cope with personal circumstances. As a result of Kingdom Principles, out-of-school suspensions at Eastwood were reduced by 28%.

  • STARS/Success Prep

    Teen and Police Services (T.A.P.S)

    School of Distinction AwardTuscaloosa City Schools

    Principal, Dr. LaTanya Williams-Collins

    Superintendent, Dr. Mike Daria

    The Teen and Police Service (TAPS) program at STARS/Success Prep, the alternative school for Tuscaloosa City Schools, was started to promote positive interactions between at-risk youth and law enforcement. The program was started by the police chief and included twenty-four police mentors for thirty at-risk youth. Weekly meetings included a presentation by the chief or guest speaker, then small groups of five students and five mentors met to discuss the presentation. The groups also participated in hands-on classroom activities with the police mentors, community projects, and demonstrations. At the end of a session, each group presented findings from the activities to the whole group. Topics discussed during the sessions included reasons crimes occur, search and seizure, narcotics, minors in possession of drugs/firearms, driver safety, truancy, human trafficking, abuse, conflict management, and gangs. The sessions always ended with police mentors and students eating snacks and getting to know one another, thus building positive relationships among the two groups. As a result of interaction with the police officers during the eleven-week program, post-survey results showed student attitudes towards officers changed for the better. TAPS graduation was held at the alternative school where the chief and police mentors honored students and presented them with completion certificates.

  • Walker Elementary School

    The Rams Way

    School of Distinction AwardTuscaloosa County Schools

    Principal, Mrs. Marsha Johnson

    Superintendent, Dr. Walter Drive

    In partnership with Samford University, Walker Elementary School created The RAMS Way character education program centered around the core values of being respectable, accountable, motivated, and self-controlled. All students and staff were placed on four character education teams and met as grade levels to learn monthly character traits. Team leaders used the Core Essentials curriculum during weekly lessons which focused on the month’s trait. Traits included performance and moral characteristics focused on the head, heart, and hands with the goal for students to see and say the trait’s meaning, know it in their heart, and be the trait through practice with their hands. During team time, students participated in a mentoring program to build relationships by being paired with a peer from another grade. The RAMS Way extended into all areas of Walker as faculty and students created and displayed school-wide behavior expectations on posters throughout the school. Students were selected weekly to serve during student voice meetings and gave input regarding likes, dislikes, and new initiatives for Walker. As a result of The RAMS Way, Walker participated in an inaugural student-initiated recycling drive, adopted the local food pantry, and collected Gatorade for police officers.

  • Westlawn Middle School

    Project Family

    Banner School Award LogoTuscaloosa City Schools

    Principal, Dr. Tiffany Davis

    Superintendent, Dr. Mike Daria

    Westlawn Middle School’s Project Family was developed to engage school and community partners to empower parents, students, and the West Tuscaloosa community to actively support family engagement. Westlawn recruited and partnered with over thirty community partners and ensured students and parents had the guidance and resources needed for future success. During Motivate Me Monday weekly assemblies, stakeholders spoke to students regarding topics from job development to character development. The Money Matters campaign opened a student-operated bank on campus. Interested students interviewed for teller positions, took math entry assessments, and participated in job training sessions with local bankers. PNC Bank hosted financial literacy sessions for students and parents. Promoting Family Unity was held during a home football game. Partners sponsored the first fifty families free game admission and parents and students participated in drawings and games at halftime. This support of Westlawn’s athletes increased family/community support by eliminating financial barriers. No Excuse for Drugs hosted Bradford Health and Tuscaloosa Police to discuss drug abuse prevention and awareness. The Cardiovascular Expo partnered with LifeSouth, UA College of Nursing, and Tuscaloosa Career and Technology Academy Health Sciences Program to offer the Blood Mobile and informational booths on heart and lung health. Project Family’s immense impact was witnessed in the school’s family atmosphere and significant growth in parent engagement.


State School Board District 5 Schools of Distinction

  • Demopolis High School

    Tiger Trending Marketing Media

    School of Distinction AwardDemopolis City Schools

    Principal, Mr. Blaine Hathcock

    Superintendent, Mr. Kyle Kallhoff

    Located in the Black Belt of West Central Alabama in a rural community of less than 7,000 people, Demopolis High School sought to create a simulated work experience for students. Utilizing the Marketing and Broadcasting programs at the school, students collaborated to create Tiger Trending Marketing Media. Marketing students produced presentations and advertising packages to sell to local industry executives and community businesses. Packages included video commercials, radio ads, and social media packages. Broadcasting students presented their capabilities to produce and edit high-quality video, audio, and social media advertising to area businesses. Once services were agreed upon, broadcasting students created products based on requested specifications. Students experienced the technical skills of creating packages, selling products, recording, editing, and producing multimedia. They also practiced soft skills of collaboration, communication, meeting deadlines, and teamwork. In addition to the for-profit media packages, Tiger Trending Marketing Media students collaborated to create a marketing campaign focused on highlighting the great happenings at Demopolis High School and a tourism campaign for the Demopolis Area Chamber of Commerce. This program resulted in an increase in work-related opportunities and corporate partnerships for Demopolis High School.

  • Francis Marion School

    Blast Off Monday

    Banner School Award LogoPerry County Schools

    Principal, Dr. Cathy Trimble

    Superintendent, Mr. John Heard

    Blast Off Monday was started to inspire school-wide excellence at Francis Marion School. Each Monday morning, students met in the auditorium following breakfast. The program began with presentations on successful student dress, acceptable and unacceptable behavior in all areas of the school and students’ day. The school’s vision, mission, expectations, and Rise Up slogan were emphasized, and students recited the student creed at each Blast Off Monday assembly. Data was shared from current and previous benchmark assessments which helped students and staff compare academic performance and make decisions to achieve at higher levels. By second semester, Blast Off Monday saw more student involvement and less administrator focus. Students elected class officers and opted to have meetings once a month after Blast Off Monday. Class officers shared ideas, and concerns during “Lunch with the Principal” sessions. Student organizations began presenting programs on various student needs. Students in the school’s two service organizations volunteered to mediate between younger students and teach them conflict resolution skills, thereby contributing to the decline in office referrals and suspensions. Blast Off Monday resulted in students who became more assertive in a positive way and worked tirelessly to change the perception of Francis Marion School.

  • Pike Road High School

    Summit Learning

    School of Distinction AwardPike Road City Schools

    Principal, Mr. David Sikes

    Superintendent, Dr. Chuck Ledbetter

    Pike Road High School’s Summit Learning program encompassed project-based learning, self-directed learning, and mentoring to create a program that prioritized students’ needs. Summit Learning utilized a base curriculum but allowed for projects within the curriculum and tailored to student need and interest. Projects made up seventy percent of students’ grades, and students were graded with rubrics on thirty-two cognitive/21st century learning skills. The self-directed learning portion of Summit accounted for thirty percent of grades and occurred while working on content area concepts and skills. Students moved through material outlined by state standards at their own pace, mastering content by year-end. Recognizing that all students do not master material upon first exposure, students could reassess without penalty if they could prove they were ready to take the test again. Lead Learners, teachers, taught power lessons on the material, examined data and created small group lessons, and offered additional workshops for struggling students. Finally, the mentoring component allowed mentors to meet with mentees daily. Within the Summit platform, students and mentors were able to view learning progress from daily, weekly, and yearly perspectives allowing for goal setting and progress monitoring. Students shared that choosing their learning pace and the ability to reassess taught them to recognize strengths and persevere in adversity.

  • Wilson Elementary School

    STEM Makerspaces

    School of Distinction AwardMontgomery County Schools

    Principal, Mrs. Meredith Bishop

    Superintendent, Dr. Ann Moore

    Wilson Elementary School developed STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) makerspace areas throughout the school to allow for more creative application of standards and hands-on 21st century learning in all subjects. The STEM program at Wilson Elementary School grew rapidly with the help of the Robotics program. Partnering with Brewbaker Technology Magnet High School Robotics Team, Wilson started the first VEX IQ Robotics team in the Montgomery Public School System during 2018-2019. Students learned building, programming, design, and team building skills. Robotics students attended several tournaments and were invited to attend the VEX IQ State Robotics Tournament where they placed in the finals. Wilson Elementary encouraged and mentored two additional elementary schools in the district as they started robotics programs for the 2019-2020 school year. Wilson Robotics members soared in their ability to work as a team and represent their school. The Wilson Robotics Team were model students throughout the school and encouraged other students to pursue STEM activities. Through the incorporation of the STEAM Makerspaces, students have deepened collaboration, critical thinking skills, and achieved higher levels of learning especially in DOK level 3 and 4 in the area of Science.

State School Board District 6 Schools of Distinction

  • Corley Elementary School

    Be Who You A.R.R.G.H.

    School of Distinction AwardBoaz City Schools

    Principal, Ms. Allison Haygood

    Superintendent, Dr. Todd Haynie

    The Be Who You A.R.R.G.H. program at Corley Elementary School was created by teachers to address the social, emotional, and academic needs of Corley’s little pirates by providing one-on-one mentoring. The program focused on the importance of being Attentive, Responsible, Respectful, Generous, and Honest (A.R.R.G.H.). Corley engaged the community with mentors that included the superintendent, central office staff, community members, parents, and faculty. Mentors began the year reading the book, Be Who You A.R.R.G.H. written and illustrated by a Corley media class. The book explained the importance of exhibiting the program’s traits by sharing the journey of a young pirate. Mentors met with their young pirates multiple times throughout the year. Mental health was addressed in the program through school-based play therapy, small group guidance, and a partnership with Mountain Lakes Behavioral Healthcare. Corley administration and faculty regularly reviewed academic performance and growth of each student and crew members earned points for their crew scoring well on math and reading assessments. This assessment data led academic goal setting discussions for each student and created an individual pathway for success. By opening the school’s doors to parents and community, Corley witnessed a decrease in discipline and improved academic achievement and attendance.

  • Good Hope High School

    Tribe Time

    School of Distinction AwardCullman County Schools

    Principal, Dr. John Hood     

    Superintendent, Dr. Shane Barnette

    Good Hope High School’s Tribe Time provided a strong, student-centered mentoring program where Tribe Leaders (mentors) followed mentees throughout his/her high school career. During Tribe Time, mentors worked with students individually to analyze transcripts. By applying the students’ future expectations, the mentee established college/career paths. Utilizing checklists, students navigated decisions for courses lacked and courses instrumental or required in preparing for post-secondary education and career planning. Each student utilized a Transcript Evaluation and Credit Review handout to evaluate transcripts with earned course credit and courses needed to graduate. This process also looked closely at CTE requirements. Tribe Time Mondays were earmarked as reading days designed to improve comprehension and fluency with each tribe reading from a common selection. The remainder of the week, students were given Tribe Time to complete Tribe lessons focused on character building, work on other assignments or missed tests, or receive extra help. Tribe Time was also used to encourage and strengthen school pride and create unity among tribes. Before an important football game, the student section was given time to collaborate and work on signs, banners, and chants. Through Tribe Time, students made life-long friendships with other students they would not otherwise have met.

  • Pleasant Valley Elementary School

    Raiders Read! Reading, Relationships & Rigor

    Banner School Award LogoCalhoun County Schools

    Principal, Mrs. Crystal Sparks

    Superintendent, Mr. Donald Turner

    Reading, Relationships, and Rigor created a successful year of reading for Pleasant Valley Elementary School students. The program provided faculty collaboration with the library media specialist to target all readers. The media specialist worked with teachers to model standards using technology and STEM projects, create a reading center that allowed for flexible scheduling based on data, open access for all students, and weekly library time. The library became the learning hub with a friendly, student-centered environment which included additional seating, centers, and added technology. The library staff conferenced with students about favored authors, genres, and book requests with books ordered on student demand. This created a level of ownership of reading and excitement for students and THEIR library. Third-sixth grade students participated in Battle of the Books, a Jeopardy-style competition among multi-grade teams. Rigor was evidenced as the media specialist worked with teachers to ensure students were reading at levels that produced growth. Relationships guaranteed program success as students conferenced with teachers, parents, and mentors on specific reading goals, objectives, educational, and behavioral expectations. The parents, community, and staff were Pleasant Valley’s cheerleaders. Named, the Raiders, this group sacrificed daily to meet the needs of students and ensured growth for all students.

  • West Elementary School

    Attendance HERO

    School of Distinction AwardCullman City Schools

    Principal, Dr. Andrew Page

    Superintendent, Dr. Susan Patterson

    The Leadership Team at West Elementary School developed an attendance incentive program called Attendance HERO – Here, Every Day, Ready and On Time. The Leadership Team selected four attendance periods of four weeks during the second semester to reward students who did not miss a single minute of any day. Students who met the criteria received two rewards. The first reward was a token and a prize from the Treasure Tower in the Principal’s office. The Treasure Tower contained eight different small rewards in which students could choose. The second reward designed for students who were Attendance HERO’s during a given attendance period received an Attendance HERO t-shirt. Rewarding students during four different periods gave students more opportunities to meet the criteria for the award and allowed students who were out of school sick an additional time period to work for the incentive. Teachers and staff promoted the incentives and the PTA helped promote with parents. West Elementary had great support from stakeholders in promoting the program to students. The Treasure Tower was very popular, and students showed pride as they wore Attendance HERO t-shirts. The program resulted in all grades achieving and an overall 95% attendance rate or higher for 2018-2019.

State School Board District 7 Schools of Distinction

  • Florence High School

    Lunch with the Keys

    Banner School Award LogoFlorence City Schools

    Principal, Dr. Roderick Sheppard

    Superintendent, Dr. Jimmy Shaw

    Florence High School’s Lunch With The Keys was proposed by a contract employee, Mr. Pete Key, to modify students’ behavior that resulted in Alternative School. Started at the Alternative School, the program helped students build character, develop conflict resolution skills, identify mentors, improve communication skills, and develop leadership qualities. Students worked to build successful habits prior to the return to the regular school setting. When students transitioned back to Florence High School, they asked to continue the program which led to its beginning at Florence High. Counselors and administration identified students to participate, and Mr. and Mrs. Key worked with students twice a week during lunch. During this non-traditional, lively conversation, students learned to resolve conflict without violence and built healthy relationships. The program equipped Florence High with an intervention to reach struggling students and those with mental health challenges by providing a safe environment free of stigma. High-energy, school-wide assemblies addressing mental health issues were a product of the program with social workers, interns, counselors, life coaches, and motivational speakers as facilitators. Exit survey data showed program participants left the program with increased emotional intelligence, increased attendance, and reduced discipline referrals.

  • Howell Graves Preschool

    STEM and Fun Day

    School of Distinction AwardMuscle Shoals City Schools

    Principal, Ms. Sheneta Smith

    Superintendent, Dr. Brian Lindsey

    Howell Graves Preschool engaged family interaction through STEM and physical education activities during STEM and Fun Day. This student-led event devoted the first half of the day to STEM activities and the second half to physical education. STEM activities are a part of the daily routine at Howell, and ones in which students are fluent. However, many of their families are not. The STEM portion of the day bridged this gap by encouraging students to share with families in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and math. Families and students rotated through classrooms and completed various activities. In science, students shared observational journals of plants and insects and showed families the plants they grew. In technology, students shared how to navigate Kodable on their Chromebooks and encouraged family members to complete a coding activity. During the engineering rotation, students and families reviewed the story of The Three Little Pigs, then worked to build a house out of toothpicks and marshmallows that would withstand a gust of wind. In mathematics, students taught families how to play math games from AMSTI kits. During Fun Day, students rotated among physical education activity stations and discussed key points with their families.

  • Tuscaloosa Magnet Schools - Elementary

    Math in Motion

    School of Distinction AwardTuscaloosa City Schools

    Principal, Mrs. Preeti Nichani

    Superintendent, Dr. Mike Daria

    Tuscaloosa Magnet Schools-Elementary (TMSE) collaborated with the University of Alabama’s Honors Program (UAHP) to integrate math standards into engaging science experiments through the program, Math in Motion. The program spanned four weeks and targeted the two mathematics areas/strands of Number and Operations and Measurement. During the initial meeting between TMSE teachers and UAHP students, the students shared their college research projects of rocketry, Astrobiotics, building cars, drones, and a mechanical hand used by NASA. TMSE teachers and UAHP students collaborated to create activities related to their research projects and aligned to grade-specific math standards. Third graders built balloon driven cars to explore force and motion, data collection, and measurement. Other third grade classes created a mechanical glove using string and cardboard to mimic a prosthetic hand. These experiences introduced students to engineering as a career path. Fourth graders learned about race car parts as they measured angles of wheel axles, weighed parts, and converted measurements. In fifth grade, students learned about drag/air resistance while racing objects and comparing times. During the final event, third-fifth grade students explored all the research projects. As a result, Math in Motion positively influenced the school’s math achievement and growth scores on the spring Scantron assessment.

  • Tuscaloosa Magnet Schools - Middle

    Service Starts Here!

    School of Distinction AwardTuscaloosa City Schools

    Principal, Ms. Kristi Thomson

    Superintendent, Dr. Mike Daria

    Service Starts Here! at Tuscaloosa Magnet Schools-Middle, an International Baccalaureate World School, required all students to take part in service activities. Sixth graders were required to serve local communities for at least two hours per school year. Seventh graders designed and built gardens, murals, compost bins, and barn quilt squares for Camp McDowell’s Farm School. They participated in school service opportunities through the recycling committee, clean-up team, and tending to the vegetable and butterfly garden. Eighth graders worked individually or in groups to develop a community passion project. They researched ways to offer assistance, developed a project proposal, outlined a six-month completion plan, and created the project. The project handbook outlined the timeline of required activities to complete and attain the highest levels of all four IB criteria. Faculty and staff served as mentors and guided each group or individual through the project process from October to April. All students were divided among five advisory teams that competed to attain the most service hours bi-annually and win the community service shovel. This trophy, made from a common shovel and decorated with the school’s motto, Discover, Create, Serve, was awarded to the winning team at the end of the year pizza party.

State School Board District 8 Schools of Distinction

  • Glencoe Middle School

    Why Try Resilience

    School of Distinction AwardEtowah County Schools

    Principal, Ms. Tisha Howell

    Superintendent, Dr. Alan Cosby

    Glencoe Middle School’s goal of producing students who recognized bad decisions, learned from mistakes, and recovered from failure led them to the Why Try Resilience for Youth program. This program enhanced the school’s focus on student emotional and mental health. During 2018-2019, three teachers were trained to implement and facilitate the program. Trained teachers integrated Why Try Resilience for Youth educational lessons into their courses to provide students with strategies to assist with life’s difficulties. The lessons reinforced decision-making, peer interactions, and complying with school rules/procedures. Glencoe’s eighth grade English teacher focused her first lesson on labels that students place on themselves or feel have been placed upon them. She asked a brave volunteer to stand in front of the class and write a label she felt had been placed on her on a small whiteboard. The student wrote the word, invisible. The class then wrote on a sticky note a word/label they thought of when the brave student’s name came to mind and placed them over the student’s label. Tears streamed down the student’s face as she realized the label she put on herself was not how her classmates saw her. The program provided the social, emotional, and mental support Glencoe students needed for their middle school adventures.

  • Liberty Middle School

    World Language

    School of Distinction AwardMadison City Schools

    Principal, Mr. Shannon Brown

    Superintendent, Mr. Eric Terrell

    The World Language program at Liberty Middle School offered students Survey of Mandarin Chinese, Survey of Latin, Survey of German, Survey of French, French I and Spanish I. Liberty Middle hired a full-time French and Latin teacher and worked with community partners to recruit part-time German and Mandarin teachers. The world language teachers built curriculum for the new survey courses by researching Comprehensible Input Based Language Learning and by collaborating with secondary world language teachers on content and vertical skills alignment as well as expectations for learning. At the end of each nine weeks, teachers evaluated the progress of each survey class and made adjustments to curriculum. The didactic approach of the survey classes included activities from interpreting and producing sounds to conducting science experiments and building literacy through novel study and storytelling. World language classrooms at Liberty Middle focused on storyboarding, the enviornment, levelized novel studies, family and consumer science, and cultural celebrations. Cross-curricular experiences such as field trips to local art museums infused the culture in the classes. Liberty’s World Language program ensured student success in the school’s increasingly global community.

  • Mill Creek Elementary School

    Building Bridges at the Creek for our EL Students

    Banner School Award LogoMadison City Schools

    Principal, Mrs. Carmen Taylor Buchanan

    Interim Superintendent, Mr. Eric Terrell

    With the largest population of English Learners in the district and over twenty-six languages spoken on campus, Mill Creek Elementary School saw the need to build a BRIDGE for their EL students. Building Awareness and Understanding with Faculty and Staff, the school procured interpreters and traveled to homes to assist EL families with online registration. Additionally, EL teachers guided faculty to form learning communities centered on the needs of EL students. The platform Ellevations was utilized to access student profiles, interpret data and find resources and tools for EL lessons. Reflecting on Needs and Data to Determine Instructon, EL teachers built trusting relationships with classroom teachers and collaborated weekly on the growth of each child. Through Ellevations, student growth was tracked by subject and standard. EL teachers met with classroom teachers quarterly and discussed student needs, celebrated successes, and planned for areas of growth. Mill Creek Integrated Culture with an International Night where families shared their culture with food, language, traditions, and celebration. Faculty and staff Developed Relationships by travelling to neighborhoods during the summer of 2018 for Read Around the Block. Students were given snacks and chose a book to read for the summer. To Get Students Ready for Academic Rigor, EL teachers developed a class focused on basic conversation, language acquistion skills, and beginning reading skills. Finally, Mill Creek Embraced the EL Population as faculty attended extracurricular events of students. From a Navrati Festival to a Japanese Spring Festival tea ceremony, students delighted in sharing their culture with their teachers.

  • New Century Technology High School

    Biomedical Science

    School of Distinction AwardHuntsville City Schools

    Principal, Ms. Sheila Roby

    Superintendent, Mrs. Christie Finley

    Biomedical Science students at New Century Technology High School participated in unique courses such as Biotechnology, Genetics, Bioinformatics, Neuroscience, and Introduction to Pharmacy Technology to prepare them for clinical careers. Partnerships with medical and/or biotechnology companies provided guidance to the program through an advisory board. These partnerships also provided internship opportunities to students. Seniors interned at Huntsville Hospital where they assisted with basic patient care and observed more extensive procedures. HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology and CFD Research Corporation provided students internships focused on scientific research. Biomedical students earned multiple certifications as they progressed through the program. Coordinating with BioAlabama, New Century staff educated industry about the types of skills and certifications students possessed upon completion of the program. This gained the attention of local scientists who volunteered their time and gave lectures. A scientist from GeneCapture taught programming and applied bioinformatics to interested seniors. Students also participated in extracurricular activities related to their studies through clubs such as the Neuroscience Club, Biotechnology Club, Health Occupations Students of America, and Science Olympiad. Funded through the grant program, AL200, students worked with HudsonAlpha on a DNA project to collect plant samples from the Huntsville Botanical Gardens for DNA sequencing.


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