Student achievement lands Sussex schools reward, recognition

24 SDSA Recognition School

From left, State Associate Secretary of Education Amelia Hodges, Delaware Secretary of Education Steven Godowsky, Indian River School District Superintendent Dr. Susan Bunting, SDSA Principal Heather Bethurum and SDSA music teacher Denise Adkins.

SELBYVILLE – Southern Delaware School of the Arts and Sussex Academy were among 13 schools statewide honored Friday for student academic achievement.

Delaware Secretary of Education Steven Godowsky lauded the 12 winners of the state’s Reward and Recognition School awards during a ceremony at Dover Air Force Base Middle School.

A 13th school was named a School of Continued Excellence.

Sec. Godowsky recognized the dedication and hard work of the entire school communities, the educators, students, parents and community partners whose collaboration helped the schools succeed.

“This is the kind of progress only achieved through dedicated efforts by many thoughtful educators and school community supporters,” Sec. Godowsky said. “It takes the partnership of families, teachers, school and district leaders and community supporters. I congratulate the students for their hard work and perseverance and thank the professional educators and leaders who supported them on their journey to achieve excellence.

“We now have the opportunity to learn from these successes and see how we can replicate this achievement in other schools across our state.”

These Reward and Recognition School awards, which carry an $8,000 prize for each school, were created by legislation passed by the Delaware General Assembly in 2009. The awards are given to:

  • schools whose students are performing at an exceptionally high level, particularly those schools with large percentages of students coming from low-income households, and
  • schools that have succeeded in closing the achievement gap for students such as low-income students, students from minority groups and students with disabilities.

Indian River School District’s Southern Delaware School of the Arts in Selbyville was honored as a Recognition School.

At SDSA, students participate in high-level, creative thinking on a daily basis. Students perform, translate music, critique art, analyze feelings and expression, and solve real-world challenges. Through a focus on the arts, students quickly become motivated to succeed academically. Scores last year are a reflection of the students and staff who all put in hours and hours of hard work centered on experiencing learning. Motivating students to enjoy learning and desire knowledge was an emphasis. Students must touch, feel, and relate to what they are learning. Through careful and hard work, the school has created an environment where students want to succeed and where teachers nurture that desire for personal success through relationship. Many of the teachers volunteer extra time with students and their families anytime it will help a student accomplish their goals.

Sussex Academy, a charter school in Georgetown earned Reward School status.

POST Sussex Academy SIGN 3c

Many years ago, the faculty of Sussex Academy determined that literacy (reading, writing, speaking, listening, and presenting) is the instructional focus for the school. Unwavering attention to this school-wide focus has affected student achievement. For example, last year all teachers taught the same process (CSET) for presenting an “argument.” This instruction occurred across all content areas. School leaders are proud of Sussex Academy’s students for embracing high expectations and its teachers for being amazing educators.

The school stays focused on its belief that its students will “Experience, Explore, Excel.”

For 2015, there were two Reward and 10 Recognition schools that will receive $8,000 each. Funding for the awards comes from the state’s School Improvement funds. Additionally, there is one School of Continued Excellence that was honored as a Recognition School last year and had outstanding performance again this year but is not eligible for a financial award again until 2016.

Godowsky was joined by the 13 principals and eight superintendents of the winning schools, along with students, parents, teachers and other administrators. The winning schools have much discretion in deciding how to spend the money.

As in years past, each school will appoint a committee (with administration, teacher, support staff and parent representation) to determine how the award will be used.

Reward Schools are Title I schools (federal classification based on percentage of low income population) identified for being either highest performing or high progress.

Recognition Schools are chosen for exceptional performance and/or closing the achievement gap. Both Title I and non-Title I schools can qualify. Two of the schools are also Title I Distinguished school awardees. They are Title I schools that met the criteria for Recognition School that had not been Title I Distinguished school awardees in the past two years.

Schools of Continued Excellence are schools that have received state awards during 2014 and continue to qualify for Reward or Recognition School distinction in 2015 are named Schools of Continued Excellence to recognize their sustained accomplishments. They will be eligible for funds again next year if they meet the Reward or Recognition School qualifications.

The 2015 winners are below. Included with each is information provided by its leaders on how their schools achieved.

Other honorees: Brick Mill Elementary School, Appoquinimink School District; Dover Air Force Base Middle School, Caesar Rodney School District; Howard High School, New Castle County Vocational Technical School District; Lake Forest North Elementary School, Lake Forest School District; Lake Forest South Elementary School, Lake Forest School District; Lancashire Elementary School, Brandywine School District; Olive B. Loss Elementary School, Appoquinimink School District; Thurgood Marshall Elementary School, Christina School District; MOT Charter School, Middletown; and  Newark Charter School, Newark.

The Sussex County Post delivers news from Georgetown and southern Delaware. Follow @SussexPost on Twitter.

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