Three middle schools across the state have earned a national recognition, one that a local school has received for the second time.
The National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform has announced three schools have earned the status of Schools to Watch. These are Ellerbe, Rockingham and Newton-Conover.
“The schools’ emphasis on strong academics, sensitivity to young adolescents’ needs and interests, and commitment to providing all students equal access to a high-quality education resulted in the well-deserved recognition,” the forum stated in a press release.
Mount Airy Middle School first learned back in February that its Schools to Watch status had been re-certified.
To earn the initial status, a school is reviewed over a three-year period. Then for re-designation, the school must demonstrate that it is continuing to meet the forum’s rigorous criteria.
Mount Airy Middle was one of 11 schools in the state to be re-designated. The next-closest geographically is Thomas Jefferson Middle, in the Winston-Salem/Forsyth Schools district, which was first recognized nine years ago.
“Mount Airy Middle School has had multiple years of quality instruction and innovative programming which led to this award being earned in 2014,” noted Carrie Venable, the school system’s public information officer. “The staff of MAMS should be commended for the high level of instruction and care they have continued to exhibit toward students and families.”
“We are excited once again to be among an elite group of middle schools across the nation receiving the Schools to Watch honor,” said Dr. Kim Morrison, school superintendent.
“This award shows Mount Airy City Schools’ ongoing commitment to academic excellence is sustained over time. We believe every child should reach his or her full potential, and this honor recognizes the hard-working staff at MAMS who care for and support every child each day.”
To be selected as Schools to Watch, schools need to show:
• Academic Excellence: Schools challenge all students to use their minds well.
• Developmental Responsiveness: School officials are sensitive to the unique developmental challenges of early adolescence.
• Social Equity: Schools are democratic and fair, providing every student with high-quality teachers, resources, and supports.
• Organizational Structures/Supports: School officials share a vision and promote a learning community of practice.
The middle school has caught the eye of many educational leaders. In October, the school hosted Catherine Truitt, the state’s education director. She was impressed with the application of problem-based learning.
“I have not been to schools in North Carolina that have this heavy of a focus,” said Truitt. “This is how we should teach every day, everywhere.”
Mount Airy Middle was recognized at the North Carolina Middle School Conference in Greensboro last month and will be recognized on the national level in late June in Washington, D.C., at the National Schools to Watch Conference.
Reach Jeff at 415-4692.