Highest-Performing Schools are the top 5 percent of Title I schools in the state that have the highest performance by students on statewide assessments, according to the Georgia Department of Education.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Frank Petruzielo said the staff of Woodstock Elementary deserve a round of applause for their work with the community to help students succeed.
“The entire staff of Woodstock Elementary School should be applauded for their efforts that led to this recognition. It’s important to note this school also was one of only four schools statewide honored as a 2013 Georgia Family-Friendly Partnership School Award winner,” Petruzielo said Tuesday. “The entire community is working together to ensure its children succeed.”
This is the second consecutive year the school has received the designation of a Highest-Performing School, which was introduced last year, Cherokee County School District spokeswoman Barbara Jacoby said.
“Despite the challenges these at-risk students face, their teachers are assisting them in achieving outstanding academic success,” Jacoby said Tuesday.
Title I schools are classified as such because they have a high percentage of students from low-income families, and receive funds to help ensure those students have a better chance to succeed in school and in the future.
Woodstock Elementary School Principal Kim Montalbano said everyone at the school works together to make sure students succeed, and “it’s been a great year.”
“It is such a cohesive, collaborative group of teachers, the educators, the parapros,” Montalbano said Tuesday. “What sets this school apart from others, is that it’s a community feel. It is in the city and we have such support of the city officials.”
Woodstock Elementary School was also given one of four 2013 Family-Friendly Partnership School Awards by the Georgia Department of Education in August, for promoting a family friendly atmosphere and encouraging student and parent engagement.
“I’ve just been so impressed with the teachers here and their commitment. Everyone has just been on the same page and they all work so hard. It’s not just the teaching staff, the front office staff, cafeteria, custodians. It’s really just a group effort, 100 percent,” Montalbano said.
Montalbano said she had been observing the school’s classrooms Tuesday, and the teachers did a great job of distinguishing the needs of different students. She said this was a big part of why the school is successful.
“Just being in the classrooms and observing the teachers, I really feel like they’re all on the same page as far as differentiating and being able to really accelerate those students,” Montalbano said. “The emphasis is allowing students to be responsible for their instruction. We do a lot of practice and pre-tests.”
Montalbano explained how one teacher she observed had noticed that her students seemed to have already mastered a concept, and by giving a pre-test that didn’t count for a grade, the teacher was able to distinguish which students needed more help and which students were ready to continue.
“She differentiated, and the students that had needs she pulled into a small group and she worked intensively there, while the other kids were given (another concept) to work on, accelerating the students who already had those concepts mastered” she said. “It’s not a one-size-fits-all kind of instruction here, and I could go on and on about different teachers. They really try to accelerate each student.”
Camp “Learn-a-Lotta” is another program that helps students excel, Montalbano said. The program is paid for through Title I grants, and offers an academic coach for students, as well as small-group instruction.