Finney, Hilltop Drive and Lauderbach Schools Vie for National Award

The National Center for Urban School Transformation has selected Myrtle S. Finney, Hilltop Drive, and J. Calvin Lauderbach elementary schools as finalists for the 2016 National Excellence in Urban Education Award. The National Center for Urban School Transformation selected only 22 schools in the United States as finalists for this year’s awards program. Site visits have been scheduled for each finalist to validate their respective applications and look for evidence of high achievement, rigorous curriculum, excellent instruction, and enthusiastic student engagement. The schools that demonstrate the greatest evidence of these elements will become bronze, silver, or gold winners.

“We’re very proud of each of our finalists,” said Superintendent Francisco Escobedo, Ed.D. “Their respective staff members do an amazing job. You can see the impact of effective, engaging instruction on a daily basis, and it shows in the tremendous achievement of their students.”

For example, Hilltop Drive Principal Lisa Parker noted that her students are achieving excellence in STEAM subjects (science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics). She credits the support of parents and staff members.

Hilltop Drive teachers, she said, have embraced the shifts toward the new state standards, including the Standards of Mathematical Practice.

“They have developed a rigorous, Common Core Standards-aligned math curriculum at each grade level using Engage New York/Eureka, Go Math, and other teacher-selected resources,” Parker said. “Visitors will observe a strong school-wide focus on conceptual development and increased problem solving using manipulatives and models. Students draw, talk, and write about math. Each year, Hilltop Drive students enter the next grade level with a better foundation for success.”

Forty-five GATE students in grades 4-6 participate in Hilltop’s after-school coding class, in which they practice 21st century skills of creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking as they work to solve challenges. The second year class is writing codes for applications. Upper grade students teach coding skills to first graders during cross-grade level collaboration. This year, coding students and all fifth and sixth graders will visit Qualcomm’s “Thinkabit Lab,” where they will learn from Qualcomm’s staff how to create, code, collaborate, and present robotic creations.

That creative spirit seems to line up nicely with the goals of the National Excellence in Urban Education Awards program, which recognize the talent, dedication, and hard work of urban school educators and students. In addition, the awards program aims to education the public about the accomplishments and potential of urban schools; provide a benchmark of excellence that motivates the reform efforts of urban schools and districts; and deepen the knowledge base of best practices for promoting urban school transformation.

Bronze and silver-level winners will be notified in March. Gold-level winners will be announced at the National Symposium on Excellence in Urban Education in May. The photo mosaic below includes activities from each of the three finalists.

 

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