Education news in brief, 12.7.2015

Two North Idaho schools are being recognized with the National Title 1 Association Distinguished Schools Program Award, state education leaders announced Monday.

Sherri Ybarra1
Sherri Ybarra

The staff and students from Coeur d’Alene School District’s Atlas Elementary and Lake Pend Oreille School District’s Southside Elementary won the annual award, which recognizes outstanding achievement among qualifying Title 1 schools from each state.

“I am proud to announce these two distinguished schools today for their hard work and exceptional student performance,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra said in a state news release. “These two schools deserve to be recognized for their efforts, as it highlights the great work that is being done in many school districts across the state to support students regardless of their background, economic status, or prior performance levels—our great districts recognize that every student can achieve, and this award highlights that effort.”

In order to qualify for the award, the schools must be among the top 5 percent of schools meeting measurable objectives, have a poverty rate of at least 35 percent, demonstrate high academic achievement levels for two or more years and meet or exceed the state’s criteria based on achievement data.

Atlas Elementary was chosen because economically disadvantaged students scored 34.4 percentage points higher than the state average in English and 25.7 percent above the state average in math.

Southside Elementary’s students and staff were recognized because of small achievement gaps between different student groups. At Southside, the gap between all students and economically disadvantaged students was 4.3 percentage points in English and 5.2 percentage points in math, according to the Idaho State Department of Education.

Leaders of both schools will be honored at the upcoming National Title 1 Conference in Houston, and receive financial awards.

Blackfoot teachers win education grants

I.T. Stoddard Elementary teachers Melissa Hunt and Tracy Folsom each won a $2,500 education grant Friday.

Melissa Hunt
Melissa Hunt

The awards were part of Farmers Insurance’s Thank America’s Teachers Program, and were presented by local insurance agents Gina Wixom and Keith Gardner, the company announced.

Hunt will use her grant for professional development through the National First Grade and Differentiated Instruction Conference and the Ron Clark Academy.

Folsom will use her grant to provide her students with access to iPads to supplement classroom instruction.

This Thank America’s Teacher Award is the second for Hunt, who last year earned one of five $100,000 grants that were awarded by Farmer’s Insurance.

Through Thank America’s Teachers, Farmers plans to award 180 of the $2,500 grants to teachers across the country this year. Farmers is also awarding six of the $100,000 Dream Big Teacher Challenge grants.

Last week, Lowell Scott Middle School English and geology teacher Paula Brockman earned one of the $100,000 Dream Big Teacher Challenge grants,