2021 CLAS Schools of Distinction and Banner Schools

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2021 CLAS Schools of Distinctions and Banner Schools

State School Board District 1 Schools of Distinction

  • Brewton Elementary School

    Brewton Elementary Book Club

    School of Distinction AwardBrewton City Schools

    Principal, Mr. Barry Wood

    Superintendent, Dr. Kenneth Varner

    Brewton Elementary School’s (BES) Book Club was designed to encourage and ignite a love of reading in students from kindergarten through fourth grade. The Book Club encouraged students to read books of personal interest while expanding their word knowledge and providing rich literacy experiences that enhanced both comprehension and reading fluency. Students recorded completed activities in Reading Logs. Rewards were given to students through acknowledgement during morning announcements, grade level parties and Book Club certificates. The community of Brewton partnered with the school to celebrate students’ successes by providing gift certificates and merchandise from local stores and restaurants. Book Club inspired students to read daily at home or with community reading partners and tiger buddies. Students were provided additional opportunities to participate in Book Club through volunteer reader programs and read-alouds in the school library. English Language learners were also supported through encouraging parents to read in native languages at home while growing and enhancing their knowledge of English during the school day. The BES motto, “Everybody Learns, Every Day,” was supported through the Book Club and ensured every student was actively engaged in improving literacy by promoting reading at home and at school.

  • Brewton Middle School

    The Reading Streak

    School of Distinction AwardBrewton City Schools

    Principal, Mrs. Madelyn Cave

    Superintendent, Dr. Kenneth Varner

    The Reading Streak at Brewton Middle School (BMS) encompassed a culture of reading at the school. The BMS tiger mascot and a group of tigers made up a “streak.” The basis for The Reading Streak was student ownership of personal reading improvement and growth in Lexile levels. Students were taught what varying levels meant regarding text complexity and College and Career Readiness. Students had individual conferences with English Language Arts (ELA) teachers regarding personal reading levels, goals, and books to read independently. The media center was an open concept for students to visit throughout the day, as well as having “Book Business” once a week with ELA teachers. Students were guaranteed 25 minutes or more weekly of uninterrupted time to renew and check out books coupled with silent independent reading time. Students tested on at least three books each grading period using the “HMH Reading Counts!” program, with many students reading more than the requirement. In addition to reading, Brewton Middle School students had a personalized laminated locker sign that stated, “STUDENT’S NAME is currently reading TITLE by AUTHOR’S NAME” which the student updated with a dry erase marker when they started a new book. The Reading Streak changed the reading culture at BMS and contributed to student success.

  • Chickasaw Elementary School 2022

    21st Century Tribe Time

    Banner School Award LogoChickasaw City Schools

    Principal, Mrs. Christy Amick

    Superintendent, Mr. David Wooford

    Chickasaw Elementary School’s (CES) 21st CCLC afterschool program, Tribe Time, functioned as a true extension of learning with the goal of building relationships with families and students that extended beyond the school day. The program focused on providing opportunities and experiences that would otherwise not be accessible to students and their families due to no other after school or summer programs in the community. Activities were designed to engage students and help with growth academically, social-emotionally, and collaboratively. Students were able to participate in gardening, Spanish, soccer, indoor hockey, ukulele lessons, computer coding, robotics, cooking, gymnastics, dance, music, and art. Additionally, students participated in service projects for the community. It was exciting to see the students and parents give back to their community. Students in the program maintained a high level of academic growth. Participation in the program allowed time for intervention, tutoring, enrichment, and exposure to an undiscovered world surrounding CES students. Twenty-eight percent of Tribe Time students maintained A Honor Roll, and 19% maintained A/B Honor Roll during the 2020-2021 school year. Thirty-eight percent of the 4th and 5th grade students were also National Elementary Honor Society members. The Tribe Time after school and summer program helped to achieve the goal of building a sense of community among students, families, and staff. 

  • Spencer-Westlawn Elementary School

    Walk to Intervention

    School of Distinction AwardMobile County Schools

    Principal, Ms. Tivella Davis

    Superintendent, Mr. Chresal Threadgill

    Spencer-Westlawn’s Walk to Intervention was developed to offer a fresh approach to intervention. The Alabama Literacy Act provided the blueprint to analyze data using Literacy Screeners, i-Ready, STAR, and classroom performance. Inventory of the faculty and staff of Spencer-Westlawn was considered, and all teachers and support personnel were given a literacy group to instruct at a designated time and place. Heavy emphasis was placed on Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, Vocabulary, Comprehension, Fluency, and Written Responses. Expectations were expressed, professional development provided, and resources distributed. Additionally, planning sessions were held to ensure teachers had materials and supplies necessary for the success of the program. Students “walked” to other classrooms to receive intervention. By visiting other classrooms, students were provided with a change of atmosphere, and teachers were given the opportunity to work with a new set of students. Walk to Intervention occurred Monday through Thursday at the protected time of 9:10 each day. To set the tone for Walk to Intervention, the song, Walking, by the group Mary Mary was chosen to convey the message of a determined spirit. Through the Walk-to-Intervention program, every child at Spencer-Westlawn received individualized reading instruction plans designed to advance his/her reading and literacy level.

State School Board District 2 Schools of Distinction

  • Dale County High School

    Farm Program

    Dale County Schools

    School of Distinction Award

    Principal, Mr. Matt Humphrey

    Superintendent, Mr. Ben Baker

    A student-centered learning program, Dale County High School’s Farm Program worked to develop college and career ready students by exposing them to the agriculture industry. This program allowed students to build soft skills and marketable job skills in many ways. Students had the opportunity to take seven different courses within the Dale County Farm Program. In these courses, students learned to care for a variety of livestock such as cattle, goats, and chickens. Students also had the opportunity to learn the row crop and vegetable production aspect of the agricultural industry through working in raised beds, a tunnel house, and a garden plot. The twelve-acre Dale County Farm Program consisted of twenty-five livestock animals, livestock barn, tunnel house, three raised beds, garden plot, two pastures, and a wood and welding workshop. While in the Dale County Farm Program, students encountered a personalized and supervised agricultural experience by developing their own projects that were an extension of the knowledge built in the program. Students also cultivated leadership skills through career and leadership development competitions in FFA. Students in the program reinforced and built on skills developed in academic courses.

  • Harry N. Mixon Intermediate School

    Classes of Universal (learning) Design - "COULD"

    Banner School Award LogoOzark City Schools

    Principal, Mrs. Maghen Lowery

    Superintendent, Mr. Reeivice Girtman

    Harry N. Mixon Intermediate School’s “COULD” program created a unique opportunity for students with disabilities and at-risk students to experience a more individualized, tailored, and supportive general education classroom environment than ever before.  Students based in the “COULD” classes participated in a Classroom of Universal Learning Design in combination with the support of collaboration and co-teaching. Mixon Intermediate School’s staff believed that students with disabilities and at-risk students needed more support and less barriers to success within the general education environment. Mixon’s staff practiced proactive support to both students and teachers within the “COULD” program. More specifically, “COULD” not only provided for the incorporation of Universal Learning Design practices but also utilized the best practices of co-teaching and collaboration between the special education teachers and general education teachers. Collaboratively, these teachers worked to plan lessons, provide instruction, monitor student progress, and manage the classroom. Data showed that all students “COULD” be successful. The success of the “COULD” program was achieved when students were provided multiple means of engagement, allowed for multiple means of representation, and were allowed multiple means of actions and expression within the classroom. The success of the “COULD” program was supported by data from students with disabilities and at-risk students which indicated increased academic growth, increased student attendance, and a tremendous increase in positive student behavior.

  • Knight Enloe Elementary School


    Roanoke City Schools

    School of Distinction Award

    Principal, Mrs. Tena Musick

    Superintendent, Mr. Greg Foster

    The ROAR program at Knight Enloe Elementary School (KES) was created using the Foundations principles taught through Safe and Civil Schools. KES used STOIC: Structure, Teach, Observe, Interact, Correct, to change adult behavior and create a more positive school climate.  Arrival, dismissal, attendance, and tardiness were targeted areas. The team used ROAR (Respect Others, Own Your Behavior, Achieve Goals, Ready to Learn) to develop consistent behavior expectations and vocabulary for the school’s common areas. They created a matrix for each area defining student and adult expectations, all geared to ROAR guidelines.  Posters with these expectations were posted throughout the school. The team developed lesson plans to specifically teach these behavior expectations to students, using a specified timeline. Positive interactions and active supervision were emphasized. To improve attendance and decrease tardiness, KES began a school-wide Morning Meeting, including a prize wheel. Two present and punctual students were drawn from each grade to spin the prize wheel. This decreased tardiness in 2020 by 61%. The Covid pandemic required changes to the school procedures, including conducting the Morning Meeting virtually, with daily themes to increase engagement, and having all meals delivered to classrooms. KES purchased the PikMyKid dismissal program which allowed students to dismiss from classrooms instead of a group common area. Students and staff embraced the ROAR program, which transformed the atmosphere of Knight Enloe to a more positive climate.

  • Phenix City Intermediate School


    Phenix City Schools

    School of Distinction Award

    Principal, Mr. Shawn Taylor

    Superintendent, Mr. Randy Wilkes

    The STEM Program at Phenix City Intermediate School (PCIS) first began in 2016. The goals for this program were to expose students to skills and concepts that would later prepare them for future careers, to set PCIS apart from the other middle schools, and to create a school and district culture that encouraged an inquiry-based, innovative learning environment for all students. The STEM program continued to grow and develop. It was composed of classes covering the areas of Engineering, Computer Science, Digital Media, Lego/Robotics (6th grade only), and Virtual Science (7th grade only). Each class was housed in a lab, furnished with state-of-the-art equipment, to provide students with the best possible opportunities to establish a firm foundation in science, technology, engineering, and math. Students attended STEM classes daily and rotated to a different STEM class each quarter. Each of these classes covered a range of state standards, as well as CSTA standards (Computer Science Teachers Association) and ISTE standards (International Society for Technology in Education). Skills learned through these classes empowered students to become computational thinkers, innovators, and problem solvers. The STEM program began as a vision for PCIS, became reality, and transformed the way learning occurred and the experiences students received.

State School Board District 3 Schools of Distinction

  • B.B. Comer Memorial Elementary School

    WIN "What I Need"

    Banner School Award LogoTalladega County Schools

    Principal, Ms. Melia Brashear

    Superintendent, Dr. Suzanne Lacey

    “What I Need (WIN)”. Such a simple statement, but such a complex idea when attempting to meet the needs of 500 students. Like all schools in the nation COVID wreaked havoc on instruction and learning at B. B. Comer Elementary School (BBCES). In the 2020-2021 school year teachers and students returned to a blended schedule. Students attended school 2-3 days a week. Teachers taught with a sense of urgency and students made some gains, but when mid-year data rolled in BBCES noticed that middle to high achieving students had not made the gains which lower achieving students had made. BBCES knew something had to change. After thoughtful consideration and discussion, WIN was born. It began with a slow flame in third and fifth grade, and once success was evident it quickly spread to second, fourth and sixth grades. WIN Time was a time each day where students were placed in a group based on individual needs. Every staff member took ownership of one of these groups and students were provided with what they needed to succeed. WIN was an innovative way to utilize the strengths of each adult within the school to capitalize on the development of reading in each child. “What do I need to succeed?” When asked, the students’ replies were phonics, fluency, writing, word study and vocabulary.

  • Elmore County Technical Center

    Camp Discovery

    Elmore County Schools

    School of Distinction Award

    Principal, Mrs. Emilie Johnson

    Superintendent, Mr. Richard Dennis

    The Elmore County Technical Center (ECTC) hosted its annual Career and Technical Education (CTE) exploration experience, Camp Discovery, for 51 rising high school freshmen in June 2021. This program was provided at no cost to students. Over the four days of Camp Discovery, students were placed in small groups and visited all 13 CTE programs on campus where they participated in hands-on, STEM activities related to the curriculum – with an emphasis on fun. From hair-raising experiences with the Van de Graaff generator in Electrical to mapping 3D body systems in Medical Sciences to examining refrigeration principles by making ice cream in HVAC, students gained valuable insight into CTE programs, course content, and potential careers in each pathway. Breakfast, lunch, and afternoon snacks as well as bus transportation to and from ECTC were provided for each camper. Participants also received promotional materials including t-shirts, drawstring backpacks, pens, cups, bracelets, and handouts of ECTC program information. On Friday, the final day of Camp Discovery, parents were invited to eat lunch with their camper and attend an open house to meet instructors, tour programs, and view the student’s work. Students who attended noted that this event was the first time they really understood that career and technical education could play a role in their future career pathways.

  • Hoover High School

    Peer Helping

    Hoover City Schools

    School of Distinction Award

    Principal, Mr. John Montgomery

    Superintendent, Dr. Dee Fowler

    The goal of the Peer Helping program at Hoover High School was to educate, motivate, and impact students at Hoover High along with Hoover’s middle and elementary schools. However, Covid removed the Peer Helpers’ ability to meet this goal through one-on-one activities, forcing them to create a new vision. The students’ new vision for Peer Helping still educated, motivated, and impacted the school and community, but it was done from one classroom, in one building, and through one method: campaigns. Through seven campaigns, the Peer Helpers brought light in a dark time. During Red Ribbon Week, Peer Helpers encouraged their peers to have an escape like athletics, arts, or even a job to help them stay away from drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and vape. Suicide Prevention Week taught lessons on warning signs of suicide and how to help a friend in crisis. Thankful to Be a Buc helped students remember reasons to be thankful, even during Covid. Hoover’s Holidays highlighted and celebrated the diverse holidays of Hoover students. Black History Month created a walk-through gallery of Black cultural icons. Be Kind Week unified Hoover through fundraising $5,000 together and sending a student on a Magic Moments dream trip. Teacher Appreciation Week transformed the school into the Hoover Chocolate Factory to remind Hoover’s teachers that they were the Golden Ticket for students.

  • Thompson Middle School

    Laying the Foundation: Building a Middle School Electives Program for All Students

    Alabaster City Schools

    School of Distinction Award

    Principal, Dr. Neely Woodley

    Superintendent, Dr. Wayne Vickers

    For the past five years at Thompson Middle School (TMS), there was a focused effort to provide more elective opportunities for all students regardless of talent, interest, and ability. Administrators viewed electives as vital as the core classes. Electives also allowed students to connect with teachers who shared a similar interest and supported core content standards. The Thompson Middle School daily schedule allowed for core classes, physical education, and the opportunity for students to choose one class of their choice. Elective options included classes in fine arts, career technical, foreign language, and other exploratory options. Except for some performing arts classes, there were no prerequisites for TMS electives allowing for full participation from the diverse student body. During the 2020-2021 school year, Thompson Middle School provided the most electives in the school’s history, adding three new courses (dance, theater, and ocean sciences) for a total of 12 new courses within the past five years, many of which were offered to grades 6-8 and had a three-year pathway feeding high school programs.  Additionally, there were a total of 6 fine arts courses in which students could earn a high school credit. With TMS and Alabaster City Schools’ focus on every student’s well-rounded education and future plans, students were able to pursue their passion or discover a lifelong interest that enriches their leisure time or leads to a career.

State School Board District 4 Schools of Distinction

  • Hillcrest High School

    Cultivating Student Growth Through Gardening

    Banner School Award LogoTuscaloosa County Schools

    Principal, Mr. Jeff Hinton

    Superintendent, Dr. Keri Johnson

    Cultivating Student Growth Through Gardening was a student-centered program created by Hillcrest High School (HHS) which nurtured the development of students in the self-contained special needs class. The program was largely responsible for improving the lives of students in three areas: attendance, behavior, and job skills. During the COVID year when attendance was challenging, the classroom remained open for the entire spring semester with 100% attendance. The team-building culture that was nurtured provided social and emotional learning opportunities that fostered positive behaviors. The new math and science skills coupled with entrepreneurial skills developed during the plant sale created opportunities for students to shine with new job-related skills. HHS recommended four students to the University of Alabama Crossing Points program and 100% were accepted. In addition, five students were placed with the Project Search program, most at the Veteran’s Hospital. The most important criterion for acceptance into Project Search is “a desire to achieve competitive employment.” The gardening program demonstrated that Hillcrest students were workers. This group of nine students from the self-contained classroom represented the largest number of placements in Hillcrest’s history. Cultivating Student Growth Through Gardening placed Hillcrest High School at the forefront of schools making a difference in the lives of students.

  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School

    The MLK Way

    School of Distinction AwardTuscaloosa City Schools

    Principal, Dr. Latanya Williams-Collins

    Superintendent, Dr. Mike Daria

    During the 2020-2021 school year, Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary continued the implementation of the schoolwide PBIS system using the core values of Intelligence, Character, and Perseverance through the MLK Way. This program was a proactive measure to reduce the number of suspensions and increase attendance. During the school’s summer retreat, faculty and staff gave input as to how to incorporate the core values into the school and classrooms daily. Wanting the students to advertise these values, t-shirts and small flags were designed for students to wear and display. A book vending machine was purchased with the MLK Way logo and posters placed in every classroom with the MLK Way pledge. The pledge was recited every morning by all students. Each month the leadership team met to analyze students with attendance concerns and discipline incidents. The administration met with teachers monthly and gathered relevant feedback to the core values. Students were consistently challenged to be at school and behave appropriately. Through the push of the MLK Way core values along with an implementation of Social Emotional Learning, Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary reduced suspensions from a previous range of 147-235 to only 31. Student attendance greatly increased as well. Not only did student attendance increase, but teacher attendance was the highest ever, creating a significant culture shift at the school.

  • Tuscaloosa Career and Technology Academy

    T.C.T.A Approach: Transforming Communities Through an Academy Approach

    School of Distinction AwardTuscaloosa City Schools

    Principal, Ms. Richjetta Branch

    Superintendent, Dr. Mike Daria

    Tuscaloosa Career and Technology Academy’s electrical and building construction programs partnered with Habitat for Humanity Tuscaloosa in their revitalization efforts to bring high quality, affordable housing within walking distance of the school campus, located in an area identified as a “Racially or Ethnically Concentrated Area of Poverty." This program offered life-changing opportunities for thirteen low-income students to transition from a classroom/simulated work environment to a construction site with experienced employers looking for highly skilled tradesmen to fill the shortage of high demand, skilled, ready to work employees and tradespeople. Students received on the job training while simultaneously transforming the community in which the school resides and in which many of them live. The students worked a total of 318 hours of hands-on training in the electrical and construction trades. They worked beside journeymen, apprentices, and other aspiring tradespeople. They showcased their employability skills like planning, organizing, teamwork, and self-management while demonstrating how well the TCTA instructors prepared them for the electrical and carpentry industry standards. Habitat Tuscaloosa utilized the Nick’s Kids Foundation 18th National Championship House as the first construction site to support TCTA's mission of providing a workforce development pipeline through this program. The community partners included the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama, the Tuscaloosa City and County governments, the Builders Group, Alabama Power, among others.

  • Tuscaloosa City Schools

    The Literacy Silver Bullet

    School of Distinction AwardTuscaloosa City Schools

    Director, Dr. Andrew Maxey

    Superintendent, Dr. Mike Daria

    During the 2020- 2021 school year, the Tuscaloosa City School libraries and librarians were highly successful in implementing programs that ensured students had access to high-quality reading material whether they attended school physically in the school buildings or virtually from home. Students had many different opportunities to be a part of the school libraries and partake in the resources available to them through various platforms. The librarians’ Tuscaloosa Reads website proved to be a huge success with students and their families during the 2020- 2021 school year. The online book readings garnered over 8,000 views. The free book giveaway was another huge accomplishment for librarians and the system’s library programs. Over $25,000 in books were given away by Tuscaloosa City Schools librarians during the summer of 2020 and the 2020- 2021 school year. Librarians also served students in digital circulation and positive library interactions. Throughout the 2020- 2021 school year, Tuscaloosa City Schools librarians went over and beyond to provide all students in the system with positive library experiences and interactions while ensuring that all students were able to access and utilize the library resources.

State School Board District 5 Schools of Distinction

  • Grove Hill Elementary School

    After School Adventure, 21st Century CCLC

    Banner School Award LogoClarke County Schools

    Principal, Mrs. Niquitha Merida

    Superintendent, Mr. Larry Bagley

    Grove Hill After School Adventure (GHASA) 21st Century Community Learning Center (CCLC) served the afterschool needs of 100 families in rural Grove Hill, Alabama. The program, comprised of students from Pre-K through twelfth grades, provided homework assistance, remediation, enrichment, and a STEAM-focused curriculum. Grove Hill Elementary was the host site that also welcomed students from Wilson Hall Middle and Clarke County High School. Pre-school through third grade students learned to code using manipulatives and beginning coding programs. Older students used coding to create new programs and interactive games. Students, parents, partners, and the faculty participated in several ongoing community service projects. These projects fostered a sense of community pride and civic duty. GHASA partnered with the local police department, fire department, town council, and the mayor of Grove Hill. These partnerships led to the development of a community garden and assistance with the GHASA Summer Camp program. Produce from the community garden was donated to the Senior Center, Southern Care Hospice, and Grove Hill Memorial Hospital.  A dance team was formed, financial literacy was provided, a nutrition curriculum was taught, and a career fair was hosted on the Grove Hill Elementary site. Ninety-eight percent of the students who attended GHASA regularly had a better daily attendance rate compared to their peers. Ninety-four percent showed an improvement in the areas of reading and math.

  • Pike Road Elementary School

    PRES Arts Program

    School of Distinction AwardPike Road City Schools

    Principal, Mr. Jeff Hatfield

    Superintendent, Dr. Chuck Ledbetter

    Committed to providing a robust arts program which extends through each child’s P-3 experience, Pike Road Elementary School (PRES) offers the components of Visual Arts, Musical Arts, Makerspace, and Theatre Arts to the school week. Together, this team serves every child at the school over the course of a year through Specialist rotations. Within each respective rotation, learners were exposed to various forms of artistic expression and were empowered with techniques and strategies to develop a greater appreciation for their personal gifts. Engaged in rich, active learning experiences, students participated in a range of activities from messy hands-on art creations to noisy music games and coding activities. Learners were encouraged to chase curiosity, discovering something they are passionate about in a safe but challenging environment. Specialists deliberately stayed connected to their core teammates to reinforce academic skills and social goals taught during the rest of the week. Kindergarten learners in the theatre class learned a skit about letters of the alphabet and second grade learners in music class sang songs about being kind or famous American landmarks. With the goal of developing the whole child, learners were immersed in a seamless arts experience carrying depth, diversity, and impact on the community.

State School Board District 6 Schools of Distinction

  • Hartselle Intermediate School

    The Tiger Way

    School of Distinction AwardHartselle City Schools

    Principal, Mrs. Earon Sheats

    Superintendent, Dr. Dee Dee Jones

    Hartselle Intermediate School (HIS) stakeholders, faculty, and staff created a “greenhouse” that inspired and prepared all students for learning, leadership, and life through the development of #TheTigerWay.The Tiger Way was the embodiment of the school’s core values which the staff used as part of a common language that became the foundation throughout HIS. Led by student members of the HIS media team, each morning the school recited the Tiger Way pledge to show commitment to the Tiger Way character initiative. Core values were displayed in classrooms and throughout the building. The master schedule was adjusted to prioritize “Tiger Time.” Homeroom teachers had specified time built into each day to meet with “Tiger Time” students. Core values guided instruction and discussions for these lessons. HIS had a dedicated character team that created a shared Google resource so that the entire campus focused on common traits. HIS administration adopted The Tiger Way reflection form and peer mediation strategies to utilize for discipline issues. Through student-led conferences, each student invited a parent, guardian, or a trusted adult to attend a face-to-face or virtual meeting. Students shared academic progress, work portfolios, and character development. The Tiger Way produced many student-led action teams which focused on community service and service-learning. The combined efforts of all stakeholders contributed to the success of The Tiger Way.

  • Little Ridge Intermediate School

    5th Grade STEAM Robotics Team

    School of Distinction AwardFort Payne City Schools

    Principal, Mrs. Jennifer List

    Superintendent, Mr. Brian Jett

    Little Ridge Intermediate School's (LRIS) 5th Grade Robotics Team, Ultimate Current, embodied the quote “the kids are not building the robots, the program used robots to build the kids.”  LRIS used Ultimate Current and built passion in students for lifelong learning and a fearlessness to tackle challenges. The project-based robotics curriculum provided computational thinking skills, real world problems, hands on learning, and teamwork with core values to achieve student goals. The Ultimate Current team competed in competitions focused on real world challenges incorporating engineering, business, and presentation skills. Students competed in four areas: innovative project, robot game, robot design presentation, and teamwork challenge. The teams were challenged to find a problem that involved a specific subject matter relevant to current societal issues. After defining and researching a problem, the team was tasked to create prototypes and test their solution. The team prepared a presentation to share their innovative solution and responded to questioning by technology judges. At the competitions, students competed in an autonomous robot challenge with a Spike Prime robot. Last year’s 5th grade team, Ultimate Current, qualified at the first-round competition to reach the state tournament. The team won the Alabama State Championship and went on to compete in the Greece Invitational against one hundred teams from around the world.

  • Ohatchee Elementary School

    Academic Opportunities

    School of Distinction AwardCalhoun County Schools

    Principal, Mrs. Tesha Crump

    Superintendent, Mr. Donald Turner, Jr.

    Academic Opportunities at Ohatchee Elementary School (OES) was conceptualized, created, led, and monitored by the school’s dedicated 6th grade teachers and pioneered a unique way to provide both academic intervention and enrichment to 6th grade students. Dependent on STAR and class performance, the program centered around six academic learning opportunities available to students. Fluid grouping of students allowed for easy transition from strategic math or reading intervention times to technology and project-based classes and STEAM activities such as coding, stop motion videos, robotics, and more. Students became partners with teachers in working towards academic success. Each student knew personal learning targets and the steps to accomplish goals. The teacher became the facilitator for the learning process and was available for one-on-one support to bolster performance and redirect and reteach. The program rekindled a fire and passion in teachers as it provided freedom to collaborate and create new instructional pathways for student success. The program’s high level of student engagement and motivation ignited student ownership of learning. The addition of Academic Opportunities transformed Ohatchee Elementary School and served as a catalyst for scholastic growth and success through meaningful and empowering practices for both students and teachers.

  • Piedmont High School

    Piedmont Promise Project (3P)Banner School Award Logo

    Piedmont City Schools

    Principal, Dr. Adam Clemons

    Superintendent, Mr. Mike Hayes

    The Piedmont Promise Project (3P) is a graduation requirement of all Piedmont High School seniors. The 3P journey of self-awareness, personal growth and responsibility focuses on thirty-five tasks seniors must complete, an exit interview to present portfolios to faculty members, and a Senior Showcase open to the public where business, government, and community members experience each student’s 3P showcase. The thirty-five tasks are divided among five sections of focus. The General Section requires seniors to create an electronic portfolio, cover letter, and professional resume. In the College Section, seniors write a two-page post-graduation reflection plan, complete a college application, scholarship application, and FAFSA application, and attend seminars on graduation requirements, understanding transcripts, and college choices. The Career Section requires seniors to create a LinkedIn account, complete an employment application and career interest inventory, job shadow with completed interview and evaluation worksheets (coordinated by the Chamber of Commerce), attend the East Alabama Career Fair, and secure two letters of recommendations. Additionally, seniors attend Advantage Plus, a full day of activities off campus. The Academic/Extracurricular Section requires seniors to write a reflection on their high school career, acquire transcripts, submit four-year academic high school plan, conduct a learning style assessment, and complete a research paper, drawing, or photograph representing his or her “best work”. The Community Service Section requires seniors to write a reflection on what it means to be an involved member of the community, complete a minimum of two-hours of community service, and handwrite a thank you letter. 3P has achieved its goal of giving Piedmont graduates an advantage over other high school graduates as evidenced by the school having the top College and Career Readiness percentage in Alabama (100%) and one of the top graduation rates in Alabama (98.8%), according to the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama. Additionally, scholarship awards for graduates have increased by close to one million dollars.

State School Board District 7 Schools of Distinction

  • G. W. Trenholm Primary School

    Tiger Buddies Mentoring

    School of Distinction AwardTuscumbia City Schools

    Principal, Mrs. Veronica Bayles

    Superintendent, Mr. Darryl Aikerson

    Research has shown students who participate in mentoring programs learn how to set healthy boundaries and build high quality trusting relationships. Mentoring programs have helped students learn to identify strengths and weaknesses, set long and short-term goals, and manage at-risk behaviors that are barriers to success. Tiger Buddies was a unique mentor program designed to support at-risk students. Tiger Buddy volunteers consisted of school faculty and staff, community members, and local high school students. Tiger Buddy mentors were carefully partnered with our students based on interest areas and personality. G. W. Trenholm Primary students were identified through recommendation from our Problem-Solving Team and chosen based on the following criteria: attendance/chronic absenteeism/truancy, poverty level, academic and behavioral concerns, Social Emotional Learning and mental health concerns, and at-risk home environment. Tiger Buddy mentors used the 2 by 10 mentoring method which is a scientifically researched Multi-tiered System of Support intervention strategy designed to build rapport and trust. Buddies met for two minutes for ten consecutive days which provided a consistent level of support as students developed these high-quality trusting relationships outside the regular education classroom. The school counselor provided mentors a list of open-ended questions to prompt conversation and dialogue. Each quarter, Tiger Buddies also participated in themed crafts and holiday activities. Since implementation, G. W. Trenholm Primary has seen a dramatic decrease in office referrals and chronic absenteeism.

  • Harlan Elementary School

    UNA Lion Buddies

    School of Distinction AwardFlorence City Schools

    Principal, Dr. Thomas Casteel

    Superintendent, Dr. Jimmy Shaw

    An academic and social-emotional support practice, the Lion Buddies program at Harlan Elementary School initiated interaction coupled with learning opportunities among elementary students and college volunteers. This partnership with the University of North Alabama (UNA) helped show The Harlan Way of teaching student leadership growth. The college volunteers included athletes, future social workers, and promising teacher candidates. UNA athletes and College of Education majors served as mentors on a weekly basis with over half of the Harlan students. The UNA volunteers collaborated with staff to plan lessons for each week. Teachers from Harlan were supported by the Education majors through small group differentiated instructional support as well as relationship building. These learning experiences helped the Harlan teaching staff address learning gaps through more personalized learning. This created additional opportunities of collaboration and evidenced increased student academic growth. Harlan benefited from the Lion Buddies program serving as a recruiting tool for the school to attract potential employees. UNA students served on campus, fell in love with working with the students, and pursued job opportunities at Harlan. The Lion Buddies program has been an investment in Harlan Elementary students by college students who are community partners through their service and kindness.

  • Lauderdale County High School

    12 Days of Giving

    School of Distinction AwardLauderdale County Schools

    Principal, Mr. Casey Tate

    Superintendent, Mr. Jerry Hill

    Lauderdale County High School’s (LCHS) 12 Days of Giving was born from a desire to implement a school-wide service project. The overall goal was to honor groups of people who do not receive much recognition. These groups included support staff, custodians, lunchroom staff, school nurses, bus drivers, substitutes, district office secretaries, maintenance/transportation workers, local Police/Fire Departments, local businesses, local churches, and local children in need. After the list of honorees was established, student groups chose a day to sponsor and then planned the details of the presentation, including what to give. Examples included thank you notes, goody bags, meals, and even visits to show gratitude. Giving and serving started within the walls of the school and then expanded outward to the district office and community. Day 12 culminated with an Angel Tree where every student in PreK-12 had the opportunity to give money toward helping their peers in need. Students were also involved in shopping for these gifts. Through this project, over 1,000 people were honored as students raised almost $10,000 for Angel Tree gifts. This exhibited giving and serving BY students FOR students and community. The 12 Days of Giving encouraged others and restored hope amid challenging times while promoting invaluable life lessons of giving, character development, and servant leadership.

  • Russellville Elementary School

    Bilingual Team-Taught Science ClassBanner School Award Logo

    Russellville City Schools

    Principal, Mrs. Kristie Ezell

    Superintendent, Dr. Heath Grimes

    Russellville Elementary School’s Bilingual Team-Taught Science Class was implemented to meet the educational needs of students with limited and interrupted formal education. Russellville City Schools had the highest rate of English Learners in Alabama, at 26%. Following a co-teaching model, the effective collaborative practice between the veteran STEM-certified fourth-grade science teacher paired with the language expertise of the ESL specialist provided a productive learning environment. In this setting, students at the earliest stages of English language development were able to master challenging grade level science standards. The goal of this collaborative co-teaching practice was to follow an assets-based view of culturally and diverse populations to successfully teach science standards to emergent multilingual learners in the newcomer class. The students’ English language proficiency scores were between 1.4 and 1.9 on the ACCESS for ELLs (Assessing Comprehension and Communication in English State-to-State for English Language Learners) with 4.8 considered proficient. All students were of Hispanic origin, and the students asked questions and shared ideas in Spanish, English, or their native Mayan dialect. This co-teaching practice facilitated translanguaging pedagogical strategies to teach both rigorous content and language instruction allowing emergent bilinguals to gain science knowledge in a language they were still developing, expanding their thinking and understanding.

State School Board District 8 Schools of Distinction

  • Bob Jones High School

    Building Construction Academy

    School of Distinction AwardMadison City Schools

    Principal, Mrs. Sylvia Lambert

    Superintendent, Dr. Ed Nichols

    The Bob Jones Building Construction Academy was unique because it served and provided an opportunity for a group of students who did not fit into the “norm” and could have easily gotten lost in a school of approximately 1950 students. Many of the students served as leaders in the Construction Club and were known as construction “toolbox rockstars” around the school. Faculty and staff knew their names. Students went from not being interested in school at all, to showing up every day with a purpose, and with a sense of belonging and pride. Many seniors have gone from not being interested in college, to being interested in a two-year, four-year, or technical school. Some have even applied for scholarships! The Building Construction Academy was a game changer. When construction students showed up to complete a task, they got the job done. Even after the job was completed, they would take their portable vacuum and make sure they left no trace of residue behind. These students have made a difference in the community and school due to the skills they learned through the construction class. Mostly, these students' lives were changed because they were plugged into construction and found their purpose and a meaningful way to be involved.

  • Challenger Elementary School

    Open Circle

    School of Distinction AwardHuntsville City Schools

    Principal, Dr. Michele Wallace

    Superintendent, Mrs. Christie Finley

    Challenger Elementary School (CES) implemented the Open Circle model which empowers students to develop problem-solving skills and resolve conflicts in peaceful ways. Challenger used a systemic and comprehensive approach to research and implemented the Social Emotional Learning (SEL) program across all grade levels (K-5). Following professional development, Challenger began using the daily 10–15-minute lessons throughout the school. The spiral-designed curriculum started the year with a unit titled, Beginning Together, to establish rules, learn nonverbal signals, and explore ways to embrace similarities and differences among students. The following units included Managing Ourselves, Strengthening Relationships, How to Sort Problems, and concluded with Problem Solving. Open Circle was facilitated by the teacher in each classroom. This built community and relationships among the students and teachers who worked closely together throughout the day. After creating classroom communities, all leadership and specialist faculty joined classrooms on a rotating basis to engage in the circles. As evidenced by discipline data, Challenger saw kinder, gentler, and more mindful students by using Open Circle strategies. Faculty members also benefitted by helping students learn to self-regulate and witnessed their progression throughout the year. The entire Challenger community benefitted from using Open Circle!

  • James Clemens High School

    Jet Student LeadershipBanner School Award Logo

    Madison City Schools

    Principal, Dr. Brian Clayton

    Superintendent, Dr. Ed Nichols

    Utilizing curriculum from the National Student Council’s Distinguished Student Leadership Program, the Jet Student Leadership at James Clemens High School, shifted the mindset from students as followers to students as leaders. Students in the program worked to complete a rigorous skill and knowledge-based curriculum. The leadership units focused on skills students could apply to multiple facets of their lives. Students demonstrated knowledge of these units through a portfolio which guided them to transfer knowledge into action. An integral component of the curriculum focused on leadership and service opportunities. Simon Sineck said, “Leadership is about empowering others to achieve things they did not think possible.” During the 2020-2021 school year, the Jet Student Leadership did just that. Since the program's inception in 2018, the Jet Student Leadership has partnered with Make-a-Wish through Kids-for-Wish-Kids. Despite limitations this year, the Jet Student Leadership was able to fully sponsor a child’s wish in 2020 by gifting a Goldendoodle puppy and pet supplies for a local 6-year-old girl. Throughout the life of the program, over 70 Distinguished Student Leadership recipients have cultivated leadership characteristics that continually manifest in ventures beyond the walls of the school. The Jet Student Leadership provided a platform for students to establish a legacy of excellence and foundation to propel them into the future.

  • Sparkman Middle School

    Schoolwide Social-Emotional Learning

    School of Distinction AwardMadison County Schools

    Principal, Ms. Kristen Bell

    Superintendent, Mr. Allen Perkins

    In efforts to educate the whole child, Sparkman Middle School successfully implemented a schoolwide social emotional learning (SEL) structure. The schoolwide SEL structure was complete with a focused, interdisciplinary collaborative team, large group direct instruction, and school-wide support and integration. Students were the central focus of the SEL collaborative teacher team as teachers worked together to establish a trusting learning environment with rigorous, meaningful SEL curriculum and instruction. All SMS students received 40 minutes of large group, direct instruction on a weekly basis. School staff provided age-appropriate, interactive lessons in one of the five CASEL core competencies for Tier I direct instruction. A third tier of targeted, individualized support was provided for students who continued to need behavioral support. Referrals to a social worker or school-based therapy, intensive support from the guidance counselors, or cognitive behavior therapy with Sparkman’s full-time behavior interventionist were utilized as Tier III supports. Sparkman students consistently demonstrated growth and Sparkman administrators documented a 35% reduction in disciplinary referrals from the previous school year. As a whole-school commitment to ensuring student success, the SEL process at Sparkman Middle School was a multi-faceted approach to social-emotional learning. The schoolwide SEL focus provided a common language, common essential standards, and common understanding that allowed the multiple facets of whole-child education to operate in a unified fashion.

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