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2017 CLAS Schools of Distinctions and Banner Schools

State School Board District 1 Schools of Distinction

  • Alma Bryant High School

    Talent Development Lab

    Banner School Award LogoMobile County Schools

    Principal, Mr. Doug Estle

    Superintendent, Mr. Chresal Threadgill

    The welding program in the Talent Development Lab of Alma Bryant High School educated students to provide a workforce for the local shipbuilding industry. Students enrolled in the school’s National Center for Construction Education Research (NCCER) welding courses learned industry standard safety skills using the NCCER Core curriculum. Students experienced the technical aspects of welding and applied these skills in a variety of hands-on activities through projects such as trashcan holders, plant stands, wall-hangings, and signage. Each semester, students toured facilities and met with representatives from local shipbuilding companies or related industries to hear about job opportunities. During 2017-2018, in partnership with Ingalls Shipbuilding, select seniors participated in the Ingalls Shipbuilder Academy to learn the various crafts of the shipbuilding industry. In addition to valuable training, students who performed well also earned jobs. In 2017-2018, Alma Bryant had four students who completed the program and were offered immediate employment upon graduation. Because of the students’ performance during the 2017-2018 school year, both on campus and through the Shipbuilder Academy, and the quality of the welding program, Alma Bryant earned top recognition from Ingalls Shipbuilding resulting in an investment by Ingalls of hundreds of thousands of dollars in upgrades to the school’s facility and equipment.

  • Robert E. Lee Elementary School

    Collaborative Science Learning Community

    School of Distinction AwardSatsuma City Schools

    Principal, Mrs. Brenda Sharp

    Superintendent, Dr. Bart Reeves

    Through an Alabama Power grant and support from the American Wildlife Federation, Robert E. Lee Elementary School designed a unique outdoor classroom. Students worked alongside community volunteers, teachers and parents to build an amphitheater, raised gardens, pollinator garden, composting station, measuring wall, sensory path, and aquatic pond with turtle habitat. Student fundraising and community funding added acrylic easels, mounted whiteboards, street signs, and curved sidewalks providing resources for enhanced instruction and student engagement. The outdoor classroom gave students opportunities to apply knowledge in an authentic learning environment while creating a new level of enthusiasm for science. This excitement was evidenced in classroom literacy stations and math activities by students showing more interest in journaling and measurement activities. Robert E. Lee saw an increase in the average daily attendance rate and the number of non-resident students enrolled in the school since the creation of the outdoor classroom. The cornerstone needed to blend student and stakeholder efforts into a true collaborative science community, the program was student-centered and student-driven from the beginning and impacted the school and community more than any adult-driven initiative in recent years. The outdoor classroom truly changed the culture of Robert E. Lee Elementary.

  • Tanner Williams Elementary School

    Project Based Learning

    School of Distinction AwardMobile County Public Schools

    Principal, Mrs. Nancy Lowell

    Superintendent, Mr. Chresal Threadgill

    Tanner Williams Elementary School is over 100 years old, surrounded by nurseries, farmland, and dairy farms which have been in students’ families for generations. The rural community heritage prompted a year-long project-based learning (PBL) program for first grade students titled, My Community: Farming Project. The project immersed first grade students in the dairy business with local dairy farmers requesting assistance planning an instructional book to keep the farm running smoothly while they were on vacation. Students chose a specific part of the farm to be responsible for developing instructional manuals. Information was collected through daily journals, research, FaceTime, and site visits with farmers. Completed manuals were sent to the farmers and multimedia presentations were shared at school. As a result, students developed knowledge in farming, culture, problem-solving with real world connections, and planting, maintaining and harvesting a garden. This project led to school-wide collaboration and the creation of a school garden so bountiful the cafeteria was able to serve its vegetables. The success of the first grade PBL led to year-long projects in second and third grade as well as a butterfly garden being designed, installed, and cared for by fourth grade students.

    Tanner Williams Elementary School is over 100 years old, surrounded by nurseries, farmland, and dairy farms which have been in students’ families for generations. The rural community heritage prompted a year-long project-based learning (PBL) program for first grade students titled, My Community: Farming Project. The project immersed first grade students in the dairy business with local dairy farmers requesting assistance planning an instructional book to keep the farm running smoothly while they were on vacation. Students chose a specific part of the farm to be responsible for developing instructional manuals. Information was collected through daily journals, research, FaceTime, and site visits with farmers. Completed manuals were sent to the farmers and multimedia presentations were shared at school. As a result, students developed knowledge in farming, culture, problem-solving with real world connections, and planting, maintaining and harvesting a garden. This project led to school-wide collaboration and the creation of a school garden so bountiful the cafeteria was able to serve its vegetables. The success of the first grade PBL led to year-long projects in second and third grade as well as a butterfly garden being designed, installed, and cared for by fourth grade students.

State School Board District 2 Schools of Distinction

  • Beverlye Magnet School

    Liberty Learning 7th Grade Character Education

    Banner School Award LogoDothan City Schools

    Principal, Mrs. Maria Johnson

    Superintendent, Dr. Phyllis Edwards

    Grounded in the social studies curriculum, Beverlye Magnet School’s Liberty Learning seventh grade character education program spanned six weeks. The program began with a kick-off celebration. Social studies students learned about historical figures and the character traits making them noted heroes of the country. During Torch Team Tuesdays, students developed Torch Team service projects to contribute to the community. Five projects were developed and implemented throughout the six-week program. The Flag Torch Team learned about flag etiquette and protocol, collected old flags, and shared knowledge and training with elementary students. The Humane Society Torch Team collected items for the local Humane Society and members provided services and care to homeless animals. The Canned Food Drive Torch Team worked to replenish the local food bank. The Beverlye Book Drive Torch Team collected and donated books to elementary students with no books in the home and learned the importance of early literacy intervention. The Serving Others Torch Team recognized local law enforcement officers through letters of appreciation and encouragement. The culminating event included presentations from all Torch Teams with pictures and videos of their journey. Selected heroes were invited and recognized with a minature Statue of Liberty. This program resulted in enhanced collaboration among teachers and students and saw a 50% reduction in discipline referrals among the seventh grade.

  • Montana Street Magnet School

    Becoming a Writing Community

    School of Distinction AwardDothan City Schools

    Principal, Ms. Sue Clark

    Superintendent, Dr. Phyllis Edwards

    Montana Street Magnet School recognized writing as an area of weakness and through the help of Being A Writer, expanded the focus of solely aligning instruction to meet standards to growing motivated and inspired writers. Teachers kept their own writer’s notebook alongside students while using quality writing samples and the work of professional authors to get students talking and writing. As the writing community developed, teachers analyzed writing, listening, and speaking standards. Kindergarten students formed opinions and shared them through writing and speaking. By fifth grade, students used advanced skills to form opinions, engage in respectful hearty debates, and write essays recognizing both sides of the opinions. All students explored sensory details, temporal words and phrases, and learned to think like authors as they explored and wrote personal narratives. With the addition of expository units across all grade levels, the youngest students explored informational text, discovered questions, and began writing facts. Third graders wrote books about animals that included information boxes since they understood these to be important for readers. Fourth graders discovered and researched places; while fifth graders researched and published digital books about rain forest animals. Final products were proudly displayed and brought excitement for the entire writing community.

  • Selma Street Elementary School

    Bright Key

    School of Distinction AwardDothan City Schools

    Principal, Ms. Dionne Blair

    Superintendent, Dr. Phyllis Edwards

    Through the collaborative movement of Bright Key, every student at Selma Street Elementary was afforded the opportunity to receive targeted support services within the following five program areas:  Academic Dream Room; Mentoring; Grow, Live, Learn; Live Rich; and Career Readiness. The Academic Dream Room provided one-on-one Tier II skill-specific tutorial services twice a week during school hours. The Mentoring program provided support and training to identified at-risk fourth and fifth grade boys. Fourth and fifth grade girls gained weekly mentoring through Girls Inc. of Dothan. The Grow, Live, Learn program taught students about health, science and agriculture and provided students the opportunity to participate in the Bright Blooms vegetable garden which focused on healthy and nutritious living. The Live Rich program was created by stakeholders to create positive school-home relationships by providing resources, training, and materials of benefit to parents in supporting their children’s academic success. The school counselor facilitated the Career Readiness program through sixteen career clusters in weekly counseling lessons. Additionally, students participated in hands-on activities during Career Connections Day. The effectiveness of Bright Key was evidenced by a reduction in student absences, increased reading and math performance data, and a decrease in second graders needing intensive oral fluency support.

State School Board District 3 Schools of Distinction

  • B. B. Comer Memorial High School

    Cross-Age Peer Mentoring

    School of Distinction Award

    Talladega County Schools

    Principal, Mr. Judson Warlick

    Superintendent, Dr. Suzanne Lacey

    In an effort to reduce discipline referrals in seventh and eighth grade, B. B. Comer Memorial High School initiated the Cross-Age Peer Mentoring Program. Juniors and seniors served as mentors participating in summer training to refine knowledge and skills related to self-image, interpersonal relationships, and goal achievement through a study of the book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey. Planning sessions with the principal and school counselor accompanied the book study. With the goal of every middle school student being assigned a mentor, seventh and eighth grade students were placed in a study hall period for attendance monitoring. Juniors and seniors were assigned to the media center and received course credit for participation in the program. Daily, mentors worked with groups of three to six mentees in the media center with a certitifed teacher as monitor. Mentors led discussions of the Covey book. Groups completed activities through Google Classroom emphasizing the Five Cs: competence, confidence, connection, character, and caring. Posters with personal mission statements developed through the program were proudly displayed throughout the school to promote positive behavior support. The Cross-Age Peer Mentoring Program resulted in a decrease in unexcused absences and discipline referrals among seventh and eighth grade students.

  • Hoover High School

    New Beginnings

    Banner School Award LogoHoover City Schools

    Principal, Mr. John Montgomery

    Superintendent, Dr. Kathy Murphy

    New Beginnings at Hoover High School was created as a model support system for students suffering from mental health issues or school-related anxiety. Staffed with a full-time Licensed Professional Counselor, a computer lab became the New Beginnings classroom with entrances from the library and courtyard allowing students outside discussion time with the counselor or quiet time to regroup. The classroom was equipped with a private restroom, small sofa, beanbag, bungee chairs, alternative lighting and puzzle table. Students had an individualized plan of support and remained in the classroom first through fifth periods while teachers from different content areas rotated in to conduct work on Edgenuity, an online curriculum. During Academic Success, or first period, students engaged in community-building activities, had breakfast, discussed relevant issues, learned strategies, and reviewed grades to prepare for the day. Second through fifth periods were designed for core classes. The lunch period was split with C.R.E.W., an advisory time. After lunch, students attended electives in the main building or went home for virtual classes or senior release. Students also participated in a book study, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens, led by the counselor. The daily consistency offered in New Beginnings provided a safe space and sense of community for Hoover High’s struggling students.

  • Munford Elementary School


    School of Distinction AwardTalladega County Schools

    Principal, Mrs. Angela Robinson

    Superintendent, Dr. Suzanne Lacey

    Through #GoGreenwithSTEAM, Munford Elementary students learned about the enviornment and how they make an impact in conserving Earth’s resources. Munford PreK and Kindergarteners learned to plant and grow lettuce and hosted a community salad party at harvest time. First graders joined students across the Northern Hemisphere by planting Red Emperor Tulips in their Journey North Test Gardens where they scientifically monitored seasonal changes. Students learned how local climate affects plant growth, indicators of climate change, and how to sustain the Earth. Fourth grade students learned about natural disasters and how to prevent and prepare for them by creating structures to withstand earthquakes and hurricane-force winds or helicopters to rescue people from floods. Fifth graders participated by raising money to fund the historical arboretum, a walking track where historical trees were planted. Students researched the historical significance of the trees and created brochures and pamphlets to give to community members who were invited to walk the trail and learn about the project. All enviornmental education projects came together at the Get Outdoors Day Festival in May where students shared information about their enviornmental STEAM projects with the community and visitors. Student achievement in math and reading increased due to the authentic reading and math practice embedded in STEAM activities.

State School Board District 4 Schools of Distinction

  • Buhl Elementary School

    Be Healthy in School Project

    School of Distinction AwardTuscaloosa County Schools

    Principal, Mrs. Vanessa Clay

    Superintendent, Dr. Walter Davie

    Buhl Elementary School’s Be Healthy in School project combined physical activity with nutrition education to encourage students and families to strive for healthy lifestyles. Multiple grants helped make this project successful. A Blue Cross Blue Shield grant funded an Inflatable Fun Run as the kick-off to the 2017-2018 year to boost awareness of childhood obesity and the importance of staying active and eating healthy. A 21st Century grant provided Club Bulldog, an afterschool program where students enjoyed various physical activities like martial arts, drumming, tennis, and gymnastics. A Target grant provided student field trips to Lake Lurleen to learn how to be active with families at state parks. Funds from the Tuscalossa County Commission, Tombigbee RC&D Council grant and Blue Cross Blue Shield built an all-purpose field to provide space for sports, games, science experiments, and community green space. Students were active each morning through the walking program, resulting in increased attention during morning intervention. The school nurse provided nutrition classes where students learned to prepare recipes and design cookbooks. The School Yard Roots program hosted a garden for students to plant, grow, harvest and sell healthy vegetables. Results of the program showed greater student engagement, improved grades, behavior, fitness and health levels.

  • Central High School

    Ready To Work

    Banner School Award LogoTuscaloosa City Schools

    Principal, Dr. Clarence Sutton

    Superintendent, Dr. Mike Daria

    Central High School’s Ready to Work (RTW) program prepared college and career graduates for success in the workforce by targeting students who wished to enter the workforce immediately after graduation. Through partnership with Onin Staffing, workforce skills were established to make students more attractive applicants following graduation. The RTW course met two periods a day for one semester at Central High. The first five weeks consisted of an AIDT-specifics course which trained students in work skills to complete certifications such as OSHA, CPR, and FDIC; preparation for the WorkKeys Assessment; and instruction in soft skills encountered in the workplace. The last eight weeks prepared students for specific jobs in manufacturing, automotive, construction, personal finance, healthcare, logistics and hospitality. This included tours of work sites, industry speakers, interview training, and on-site employment interviews. Each area received a one-week course created and presented by industry leaders with curriculum covering Alabama standards for workforce essentials where students received orientation as if employed by the company. Of the 53 students selected for the program, 50 achieved completion and gained employment. Positive results included decreased discipline and increased student engagement, attendance, GPA, and passing scores on WorkKeys Assessment.

  • Hillcrest High School

    Literacy for All – Math Literacy

    School of Distinction AwardTuscaloosa County Schools

    Principal, Mr. Jeff Hinton

    Superintendent, Dr. Walter Davie

    The student-centered Literacy for All-Math Literacy program at Hillcrest High School nurtured the development of skills students need to be College and Career Ready. Literacy for All required students to actively read non-fiction articles, map responses to teacher-created prompts, and write evidence-supported essays. In this component, students examined the moral ambiguity of heroes and villians, compared primary source information, presented arguments, explored the burden of bankruptcy among professional athletes, evaluated strategies to make a perfect ACT score, investigated the use of 3-D technology to solve medical impairments, studied the effects of Internet addiction on the brain, and questioned the validity of forensics to predict birth defects. Math Literacy required Hillcrest students to actively read graphs, identify key components, interpret data and present findings in narrative form. Examples of this component featured student work which compared population growth of cities over time, explored the effects of the opiod crisis on employment and the extent to which mental health care spending varied by state. The April 2017 ACT showed Hillcrest juniors exceeded the state average in writing, all science categories, and the percentage of students meeting STEM and college readiness increased. Hillcrest students gained confidence to attempt more rigorous coursework from the program.

State School Board District 5 Schools of Distinction

  • George Washington Carver Elementary School

    Camp STEAM After School Program

    Banner School Award LogoMacon County Schools

    Principal, Mr. Norman Williams

    Superintendent, Dr. Jacqueline Brooks

    George Washington Carver Elementary’s Camp STEAM after school program provided evidence-based curricula and activities to support lifelong literacy. The goals of the program were to provide academic enrichment, improve school attendance and behavior, provide opportunities for parental and community involvement, and implement Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math activities. Each afternoon, students engaged in hands-on Picture-Perfect STEM lessons working cooperatively and collaboratively in robotics lessons with Dot and Dash and the Hour of Code. Students enjoyed sharing knowledge with parents during STEM literacy parent nights. To further promote STEAM, students chose to participate in different clubs such as abstract art, cooking, healthy hearts, technology, photography, guitar, piano, tennis and environmental, financial and nutritional literacy. The club choice was provided to support decision-making skills and promote self-efficacy and ownership in learning. Camp STEAM participants enjoyed Wild About Reading night each Wednesday by taking free books home to read, kept the school campus clean through the Alabama Clean Campus Program, and with the community’s help of donated pillowcases, girls worked with a local seamstress to prepare dresses and jewelry for the Little Dresses of Africa project. Through the initiation of Camp STEAM, the school experienced improved student achievement and attendance with decreased discipline incidents.

  • Satsuma High School

    Honduras Container Classroom Project

    School of Distinction AwardSatsuma City Schools

    Principal, Mr. Josh Verkouille

    Superintendent, Dr. Bart Reeves

    In partnership with Skilled Knowledgeable Youth, Satsuma High School engineering students were tasked to transform a retired shipping container into a computer classroom for Honduran students. The transformation began by changing the color of the container from dark orange to light cream in order to reduce the amount of heat it would absorb. Due to the tropical climate in Honduras, students decided to use spray foam insulation to mainatin a comfortable temperature in the classroom. Metal framing and sheet metal walls were installed to avoid the high probability of termite infestation. A ductless A/C unit was installed to allow Honduran staff accessibility for repairs. The interior was outfitted with built-in shelves for desks and once completed, art students painted a tropical underwater mural on the walls. Health occupation students included over one hundred fifty pairs of shoes in the container to be used by community members of Balfate Honduras. In June, two engineering students, along with the Spanish teacher, joined other Alabama students to travel to Honduras to assist with the installation of the container classroom. Upon installation, the students installed operating systems and software on ten laptops and trained the Honduran high school teachers on equipment use. Students also assisted Honduran educators with setting up Zoom accounts to communicate with their U.S. colleagues.

  • Westside Elementary School

    Creating a Culture of Student Leaders

    School of Distinction AwardDemopolis City Schools

    Principal, Ms. Roshanda Jackson

    Superintendent, Mr. Kyle Kallhoff

    Westside Elementary redefined the school’s culture by creating a student-led enviornment. Westside’s popular Accelerated Reader program was changed to allow students to collaborate with teachers to set personal goals. This created student ownership, resulting in increased participation and oral fluency. Continuing the culture of student-led activities, students led morning announcements which centered on themes like “Teacher Tuesday” with fun teacher facts shared and “Funny Friday” with funny jokes told by students. Other leadership roles held by students included flag duty, school greeters, tour guides, and recorded student announcements on the school cast reminder system. Students were also involved in educating parents about Westside’s student leadership development by starring in videos. Leadership days were held quarterly to showcase student leaders as they shared individual successes with families and classmates with the third event focused on future careers. The culminating leadership day transformed Westside into a glamourous Hollywood movie premier scene. Students and parents walked the red carpet with stars dangling from the ceiling, a giant popcorn box, and life-size golden Oscar statue. This event created excitement for students to celebrate academic progress and leadership qualities at the student-led celebration. As a result, Westside witnessed improved attendance with more courteous and leadership-minded students.

State School Board District 6 Schools of Distinction

  • Morgan County Schools Technology Park

    Auto Collision Technology

    School of Distinction AwardMorgan County Schools

    Principal, Dr. Jeremy Childers

    Superintendent, Mr. Bill Hopkins

    Morgan County Schools Technology Park Auto Collision Repair program was designed to train students to repair and replace damaged auto bodies and parts, from frame repair and glass replacement to working with fiberglass and plastics, as well as applying paints and finishes. Students trained on shop-owned panels and vehicles as well as customer “Live Work”. Students were trained using the I-CAR Curriculum, the industry standard for collision repair training and certification. Additionally, students earned credentials, making them more desirable to potential employers. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) approached the collision repair program with a unique opportunity for the 2017-2018 school year. NASA tasked collision repair students with prepping, priming, and painting light panels for the U.S. Space Station Training Simulator in Texas. Over a four-week period, students prepped and coated hundreds of individual panels to produce a product that met NASA’s tough quality control standards. Collision repair students also participated in SkillsUSA, a national association serving students preparing for trade and technical careers. SkillsUSA members competed in the job interview leadership contest on the district level. Collision repair students participated in state competitions, placing third in collision repair and fourth in collision refinishing.


  • Pleasant Valley High School

    Raider Time

    Banner School Award LogoCalhoun County Schools

    Principal, Mr. Mark Proper

    Superintendent, Mr. Joe Dyar

    Raider Time at Pleasant Valley High School formed as a research-based advisement program. Students were placed with faculty members who served as academic advisors and were enrolled in a twenty-minute period following lunch, during which they received advisement instruction two days per week. Advisors reviewed transcripts and four-year plans with students. For grade levels with no established transcripts, advisors discussed the development of four-year plans and the importance of maintaining a high GPA. At each grade level, students were exposed to curricula reinforcing age level issues. Seventh grade students received instruction in study skills, conflict resolution, test taking, and diversity. Eighth grade students studied resume writing, leisure/work balance, rumors/reputations, and responsibility. Ninth graders delved into time management, community resources, careers, healthy relationships, and safe dating. Sophomores examined time management, standardized test taking skills, stress management, effective communication, and transcript reviews. Juniors were required to update resumes, learned about cultural diversity, job readiness skills, and financial planning. Seniors were advised in post-secondary survival, employment and interview skills, and effective communication. Students kept portfolios of their advisement progress from seventh through twelfth grade to see the full scope of progress. Raider Time transformed the climate of Pleasant Valley High School.

  • Weaver Elementary School

    Academic Opportunity

    School of Distinction AwardCalhoun County Schools

    Principal, Mrs. Summer Davis

    Superintendent, Mr. Joe Dyar

    Weaver Elementary began Academic Opportunity (AO) out of the desire to meet the needs of every student. A 45-minute time block was set aside for fourth, fifth, and sixth graders to receive intervention or enrichment in heterogeneous groups across the three grade levels. AO provided a systemic effort of instructional supports for reading and math students. Reading classes exhibited a progression of intervention that began with fundamental phonics skills. To meet the needs of students with dyslexia characteristics, reading intervention was provided through programs such as Sounds Sensible, Spire levels 1-6, Rewards, Rewards Plus, and Comprehension Toolkit on grade level. Math intervention used Eureka Math to provide standards-based instruction for non-mastered skills. AO groups were fluid and allowed students to move in and out based on need and progression of mastery throughout the year. Students were screened at the beginning of the year using Scantron and STAR. Non-grade level performing students were given other screeners to identify non-mastered skills. While the screening process was challenging, Weaver identified barriers for learning in all students.  The counselor led an enrichment group for students performing over a year above grade level in both math and reading where students wrote dramas and produced character education video broadcasts. This program was truly an academic opportunity based on each student’s greatest need.

State School Board District 7 Schools of Distinction

  • Florence High School

    Academy of Fine Arts

    School of Distinction AwardFlorence City Schools

    Principal, Dr. Roderick Sheppard

    Superintendent, Dr. Jimmy Shaw

    Florence High School’s Academy of Fine Arts (FAFA) offered students nine focus areas: art, band, chorus, creative writing, dance, digital media, orchestra, recording arts, and theatre. The selection process required students to maintain a B average in FAFA courses and a minimum of a C average in all academics. This decision was based on knowledge that many creative minds are not always the best academic students. Applicants selected a major, were assigned an advisor, and required to take one fine arts class per semester the freshman year and two per semester the sophomore through senior years. With the integration of Virtual School, students were able to participate in more Fine Arts classes, developed self-discipline and time management skills. To connect with the history of the Shoals and through the generosity of a local benefactor, a state-of-the-art recording studio was built where students learned guitar, music engineering, songwriting and studio/stage performing. FAFA brought in notable musicians to work with recording students. Other professionals brought knowledge and expertise to choral, piano, and orchestra students. FAFA also built a state-of-the-art TV Production facility on campus. Instructors at FAFA embraced collaboration as a means of developing a more complete education for students, realizing that occupations in the 21st century will look for creative minds to solve problems.

  • Leeds High School

    Advancement VIA Individual Determination (AVID)

    Banner School Award LogoLeeds City Schools

    Principal, Mr. Rayford Williams

    Superintendent, Mr. John Moore

    Advancement VIA Individual Determination (AVID) at Leed’s High School sought to provide students in the academic middle with academic and personal support. Rising ninth graders with untapped potential and little support outside of school were identified and invited to apply. Selected students committed to the AVID program for their high school career. The AVID curriculum was designed to provide engaging grade-level strategies and support to develop skills necessary for student success. Ninth graders were introduced to opportunities to help discover purpose and pathway with emphasis placed on organizational and study strategies to navigate the most rigorous high school classes. AVID sophomores focused on identifying interests and exploring academic, extracurricular, and career options. Juniors prepared earnestly for the ACT and gained knowledge of college, career, and financial planning. Seniors worked to prepare and submit college and FASFA applications, participated in internships and created and implemented post graduation plans. All AVID students received weekly tutorial help and participated in structured, collaborative study sessions. Students were presented with experiential opportunities such as guest speakers and overnight trips touring college campuses – a first for many. Results of AVID included increased academic rigor, students’ expectation to be challenged, and increased graduation and attendance rates for Leeds High School.

  • Verner Elementary School

    Verner Camp Read-A-Lot

    School of Distinction AwardTuscaloosa City Schools

    Principal, Mrs. Beth Curtis

    Superintendent, Dr. Mike Daria

    Verner Elementary’s Camp Read-A-Lot provided a framework for a strong literacy program where summative, formative, and progress monitoring data pinpointed core needs and provided diagnostic evaluation of literacy skills for all students. All K-5 classes had a minimum of 150 minutes for language arts that included 90 minutes daily of uninterrupted, organized time for small and whole group reading instruction and literacy centers. Additionally, identified students received supplemental and intensive instruction outside of this block. At least 20 minutes was set aside daily to promote and encourage independent, self-selected reading. Classroom leveled libraries included content area books. The literacy-rich environment, full of print, word walls, books, and reading materials, provided a setting that encouraged and supported speaking, reading, writing, and listening in a variety of authentic ways. Through daily read-alouds, teachers modeled how reading is a great way to spend time, but also exposed students to complex vocabulary. The librarian and library aide were instrumental in supporting the literacy program through individual student attention and weekly authors’ studies. Book displays were featured throughout the school in likely and unlikely places for students to always have a book to read. Verner students participated in Book Buddies, Book Talks, and many special occasions to celebrate reading success.

State School Board District 8 Schools of Distinction

  • Bob Jones High School

    Patriot Path

    School of Distinction AwardMadison City Schools

    Principal, Mrs. Sylvia Lambert

    Superintendent, Mr. Robert Parker

    Patriot Path at Bob Jones High School was developed as a student initiative to develop leadership skills, relationship building, project development, and networking with community partners through student-to-student, student-to-faculty, and student-to-community connections. Held each Wednesday, students chose the path/session from over eighty options. An extensive, student-developed dashboard communication website was developed allowing for session sign-up and new session ideas. During Patriot Path, students were exposed to guest speakers such as a human resource manager who discussed resumes and job skills and a NASA employee who shared about work on the Space Launch System to enable the Mars mission. He inspired students to consider how they might use their unique talents to serve in this endeavor.  Students and teachers led sessions on sign language, hula dancing, photography, meme creating, sports business, trivia, nail art, chess, foreign language conversations, and providing services to community support agencies. Since incorporating Patriot Path, discipline referrals decreased and attendance increased. Students in poverty reported they would never miss a Patriot Path day where they have the chance to play basketball, take Taekwondo, attend tutoring, or make up a test. Students have also taken on more community leadership roles as a result of Patriot Path.

  • John S. Jones Elementary School

    Maker Space

    School of Distinction AwardEtowah County Schools

    Principal, Mrs. Tanya Clark

    Superintendent, Dr. Alan Cosby

    The John S. Jones Elementary School (JSJES) Maker Space Lab was created to give students the opportunity to problem solve by using hands-on design and construction. The librarian, administrators, and teachers researched the benefits of STEAM activities in the elementary classroom and began to plan how to make the lab a reality, with the librarian taking the lead. The librarian attended professional development, collaborated with colleagues, read blogs, followed Twitter, and visited other schools to gain insight to effectively set up, manage and maintain a maker space lab in a large school. With the decision to build the lab at one end of the library, the librarian served as facilitator and provided STEAM activities and resources to teachers to support classroom instruction. Emails were sent for each new STEAM challenge containing curriculum connections including videos, books, and websites. Graphic organizers and recording sheets for planning and reflecting were also provided. Students had scheduled time in the lab twice a month with classroom teachers monitoring and supporting students. Family extension was provided through monthly maker mats which promoted divergent thinking, creative expression, and imagination among parents and students.The Maker Space Lab positively impacted academic rigor, increased student collaboration, and boosted parent engagement at John S. Jones Elementary.

  • SPARK Academy at Cowart Elementary School

    SPARK STEM Academy

    Banner School Award LogoAthens City Schools

    Principal, Dr. Beth McKinney

    Superintendent, Dr. Trey Holladay

    The Scientific Project-based Academic Research for Kids (SPARK) Academy at Cowart Elementary School transitioned traditional literacy-centered classrooms to STEM-focused content as a means of engaging students. With the belief that Cowart students would learn best by moving from teaching content as isolated subjects to integrating content areas into themed units, teachers established grade level themes for each nine weeks of instruction chosen from the Alabama Science Course of Study. Science standards were inserted into the units followed by other subject area standards. Themes were shared with SPARK professionals responsible for other areas of learning to ensure themes were used throughout the day with all learners. In SPARK Lab, students participated in design challenges, classroom extension lessons, student-led projects, robotics, coding, and free exploration. SPARK students enjoyed field research experiences as elements within units. During these experiences, students met with experts or participated in video chats for enhanced learning and relevance. Student learning through a STEM lens increased motivation and engagement at Cowart as teachers included fiction and non-fiction books with STEM themes, connected mathematics concepts to the real world, and created authentic learning experiences through project-based learning. SPARK students experienced significant increases in reading and math performance data with this shift in instruction.


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