Mableton Elementary Wins National School Change Award
Only six schools in the nation receive the award annually. "Raising the bar" has been the key.
Dr. Lew Smith, director of the National Principals Leadership Institute, presented the award during a ceremony on Monday, saying that Mableton Elementary won the award because of their willingness to “keep raising the bar.”
“People would not accept the bar at a lower level,” Smith told the assembly of students, teachers and parents. “They would not accept the idea that you could not go over the bar if it were raised. They believed you could do it.”
Throughout the assembly, students displayed the respect, self-confidence and enthusiasm that have made the award possible.
Schools nominated to receive the award are evaluated on four dimensions of change, including meaningfulness, depth, breadth, focus and measurement. Each year, nominees are carefully screened and 24 finalists are recognized. From these finalists, a national panel of judges selects six schools across the country to receive the award each year.
In the program’s 11-year history, over 480 schools have been nominated. Mableton Elementary is only the third school in Georgia to receive the award.
This is but the latest in a string of accomplishments for Mableton Elementary, which has received the Distinguished Title I Award for seven consecutive years, and which last year became the first Title I school to be named a School of Excellence.
Change starts with leadership, which in this case means Principal Kym Eisgruber and Assistant Principal Chris Brummel. Eisgruber says that she met with some resistance when she first began implementing change.
“People told me, 'That’s not how we do things at Mableton Elementary,'” she recalled. “But I said, ‘It’s how we’re doing things now.'”
Eisgruber will travel to New York, where she will receive the award, which includes a $5,000 grant, at the 14th Annual National Principal’s Leadership Institute, hosted by the U.S. Department of Education. Mableton Elementary will also be included in a national research project focused on school change.
Assistant Principal Chris Brummel has also been instrumental in the change. She credits the faculty and staff as a team.
“We really focused on collaboration with teachers,” said Brummel. “It’s not about looking from the outside, at what we should be doing, but about sharing all the great ideas that we already have.”
Brummel puts her leadership into action daily, greeting students at the bus and car lines, shaking hands, giving hugs, and dispensing encouragement.
“We have high expectations for our students and ourselves,” she said. “If you tell a child they’re fabulous, nine times out of 10 they’re going to be fabulous. If you tell a child that they aren’t, then they won’t be.”
Parents have observed the positive change as well.
“We’ve been here three years, and every year it keeps getting better,” said Beth Lloyd, who has a second-grader, Annalise, a kindergartner, Lucas and a rising kindergartner named Julia.
Unlike many other efforts at school change, Mableton Elementary has focused on more than just test scores, although improved test scores are a natural result of collaborative teaching.
“Good teaching is good teaching,” said Brummel. “We’re sharing ideas, we’re sharing as educators, and we’re trying to build young people. When you do all those things, you get higher test scores. But you won’t get them with complacency.”