WINTERBORO — Winterboro High School is one of six schools in the country to receive the prestigious National School Change Award.
The announcement comes after WHS was recently honored as a Green Ribbon School by the United States Department of Education along with Munford Elementary School.
“It’s been a good week,” Talladega County Schools Superintendent Suzanne Lacey said. “I think it solidifies our connection for learning and I think it truly validates all the goals we are collectively working toward in our School System.”
The award is sponsored by the National Principals Leadership Institute, which annually recognizes six schools throughout the country that have shown a significant change in teaching practices and interdisciplinary learning.
The other 2012 National School Change Award winners are Minor High School in Adamsville, Beardsley School in Bridgeport, Conn., Mt. Olive Middle School in Budd Lake, N. J., Sam Houston Middle School in Irving, Texas, and Whale Branch Middle School in Seabrook, S. C.
“Receiving this award is validation for the commitment the staff at Winterboro has had to change and improve for our students,” Lacey said.
Lacey praised the faculty and students at WHS for their commitment to project- based learning, and said she is proud the school has received national recognition for all its hard work during the major transition from the school’s traditional curriculum to a more technologically savvy, interdisciplinary learning environment.
WHS principal Craig Bates said he and everyone at the school are excited about the award.
“It is an extremely distinguished honor for which I am grateful,” he said. “We were nominated last year but did not receive the award, so we decided to reapply this year and after we submitted our evidence it worked out and we were one of the lucky six that got selected.”
The evidence Bates refers to was required for the award’s rigorous application process. Nominated schools were measured against 16 specific criteria to determine the degree to which they had improved, grown and significantly changed.
“I think the most significant changes came from the data we were able to provide to the panel of judges. We had a significant increase in testing areas. There’s been a huge cultural impact on what we’re doing with students,” Bates said.
“We were able to show reduced levels of discipline and increased levels of satisfaction and increased graduation rates.”
Bates said the collaboration between teachers, students and staff members has been central in establishing WHS as a leader in the areas of both 21st Century and Project- Based Learning.
“I think for Winterboro it means additional recognition,” Bates said. “We were already being recognized by Talladega County and the state, but I think this will mean recognition on the national level for what we are trying to do with school reform.”
In addition to receiving the award, WHS will have a ceremony May 9 and Dr. Lew Smith, founder and director of NPLI, will visit.
Bates will also get the opportunity to participate in the 15th Annual National Principals Leadership Institute, held July 14- 20 in New York City.
WHS will also participate in a major national research project focusing on school change.
“I think there is a high level of collaboration between teachers and students and staff, including the central office, toward a common goal for this school and that is to make it a place of learning, a place that they want to come to school, a place where teachers think outside the box when it comes to instruction, and a place where there is a type of learning that is really unlike anywhere else,” Bates said.