CES one of five schools nationwide in consideration for award

Clinton Elementary School students, faculty and staff members are collectively holding their breath in anticipation as the school is one of just five finalists nationwide competing for the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching Founder’s Award, to be presented Feb. 29 in Dallas.

The ultimate winner will receive $50,000, but regardless of the outcome, the school is already considered a champion, between receiving $10,000 as a finalist and showing a proven track record among teachers and students through the school system’s three-year partnership with the institute.

“Over the past three years, Clinton City Schools has collaborated with [the institute] to enhance leadership and teaching practices,” said Lori Collins, Clinton City Schools’ supervisor of curriculum and federal programs, who headed up the collaboration.

“All three Clinton city schools have poured their hearts into this work, towards increasing student achievement.

“Working hand in hand with [the institute], we’ve focused on honing the leadership and teaching skills vital for our students’ success,” Collins said.

“The growth we’ve witnessed in our schools is a testament to the dedication and hard work of our entire district,” she said. “Seeing our efforts recognized on a national stage fills me with immense pride. It’s like watching something grow and bloom that I’ve had a part in supporting.

“This achievement is a testament to the impact we’re making on the lives of our students,” Collins said. “The Clinton community already knows the exceptional quality of education we provide our kids. This award is icing on the cake.”

According to an institute news release, Founder’s Award finalists are selected “based on several factors, including their efforts to make instructional excellence the cornerstone of school improvement; plans for regular professional learning focused on the real-time needs of teachers and students; creating a culture of collaboration and reflection; and leveraging teacher leaders and administrators to drive student growth.”

Clinton Elementary Principal Jenna Sharp, her leadership team, and Clinton City Schools Director Kelly Johnson were all singled out for “their commitment to maximizing the potential for all,” institute founder Lowell Milken in the release.

“The vision and mission of [the institute] aligns with and strongly supports Clinton Elementary School’s vision to hold high academic standards for every student and every teacher, and to provide research-based, best-practice supports that ensure all students have access to highly qualified educators,” Sharp said in the release. 

“One of our biggest successes with our work with [the institute] is our structure and systems for a collaborative learning environment through our professional learning communities. We now have a cyclical learning process that transfers learning from leaders to teachers, and, ultimately, students.”