Fresh off two national recognitions last month, Whale Branch Middle School has notched yet another prestigious honor with its selection as a 2012 National School Change Award recipient.
Whale Branch Middle becomes one of only six schools in the nation to be honored by the National Principals Leadership Institute. The National School Change Award is presented to schools that demonstrate measurable changes in attitudes, beliefs, and values — evident in decisions about instruction, organization, governance and accountability — which result in improved student performance.
“We’ve made tremendous strides in improving student achievement and closing achievement gaps, but there’s still a lot of work to do,” said Principal Matt Hunt. “One of our biggest strengths as a school is the way our staff and community stakeholders are investing in what we’re trying to do. I’m hopeful that all of the recognitions and honors we’re receiving will accelerate our momentum and provide a big boost for our efforts.”
Each nominated school responded to 16 criteria by providing data and documentation to support its case. Nominees’ submissions were reviewed by a team of 10-12 judges.
Superintendent Valerie Truesdale said the Board of Education had been explicit in setting its expectations for high-quality schools for all children, so the district proposed a plan in 2008 for accelerating learning in persistently underachieving schools, including Whale Branch Middle. The Accelerated Learning Schools initiative included extending learning time by adding 20 days to the school year, using a rigorous curriculum taught by highly effective teachers and led by a strong principal, and developing a sharp focus on preparing students for college and careers.