Two elementary schools in Dothan are recognized by state education officials as places where students who overcome adversity excel in academics.
The principals of Cloverdale and Heard Elementary Schools are very proud of their students and faculty. They said that their hard work has helped make their schools shining examples of excellence within Alabama’s educational system.
The hard work these Cloverdale Elementary School students are doing is paying off.
Their school was recently recognized as one of 22 torchbearer schools in Alabama, a recognition that highlights high-poverty public schools that overcome odds to become high performing schools.
"To be identified as a torchbearer school, 70 percent of your kids have to be free or reduced price lunch kids, and also, 70 percent of those kids have to score level three or four on the Alabama Math and Reading test," said Superintendent Dr. Sam Nichols
These two criteria along with other requirements were met by Cloverdale Elementary and heard Elementary in Dothan. The principals at both schools said they couldn't have achieved this honor without the hard work from their faculty, students, and parents.
"It is absolutely phenomenal. We are just so excited, and I am so very proud of our faculty and of the students because they've worked extremely hard," said Heard Elementary School Principal Peggy Maddox.
"Our students and faculty work real hard to make sure that the needs of the kids are met and they’ve really performed really well," said Cloverdale Elementary School Principal Gary Hughs.
Officials at both schools attribute their success to strategic plans they set forth at the beginning of every school year, and specialized programs they are instituting to focus on core subjects like reading and math.
"We have a 90-minute block of time that we call a protected reading time. That means there are no interruptions, no intercom, there's just complete reading bloc of 90 minutes every day," said Maddox.
With this recognition both schools will now receive extra money from the federal government to hire additional teachers and aides.
Principal Hughs and Maddox said they will continue to work hard with their students and staff to continue this trend of academic excellence, in the years to come.
State education officials say that the torchbearer resignation should encourage other poor schools to better and show them that it is possible.