2 Jefferson schools get an 'A'

June 17, 1997


Staff Writer, Charles Town

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - At Page Jackson Solar Elementary, teachers get on the floor with the students, volunteers put in hundreds of hours and students are excelling in classroom work.

At T.A. Lowery Elementary, students share a school-wide gardening project as part of their science courses.

The work done by the two schools recently earned them the state's highest grade, a "School of Excellence" award.

It marks the first time any school in Jefferson County has achieved that distinction, according to schools spokeswoman Liz Thompson.

Only 17 of 900 schools in the state receive the honor, which is based on a wide range of criteria, from turnover rate of the staff to students' test scores, officials said.

"It's a wonderful recognition for the teachers and students at the schools," said T.A. Lowery Principal Karen Stroup. "We hear so much about what is wrong with public education. It's nice to hear something good about public schools."


She has been the principal at T.A. Lowery since the school opened five years ago.

The school has about 520 students in kindergarten through 6th grade and a staff of 63, Stroup said.

Page Jackson has 556 students in kindergarten through third grade and a staff of 50, said Principal Patricia Lynn, who has been at the school for two years.

The two schools had to submit lengthy reports on the curriculum, instructional innovations, staff turnover and administration.

Lynn said just filling out the application took more than 40 hours of writing.

Inspectors from the state also visited the schools.

A high turnover rate shows there are problems at the school, Stroup said. A low turnover rate could mean staff members enjoy what they are doing and the school keeps experienced people, she said.

One of the innovations used at Page Jackson is that not just disruptive students are sent to the principal's office, Lynn said.

A teacher or a janitor who spots a student doing something nice or worthy of recognition sends the student to the principal's office, Lynn said.

The student's picture is then posted on the board outside the office for being a good student, she said.

Students who have no marks for disruptive behavior are given a "VIP" party, she said.

The schools learned they had received the excellence award on May 29.

The school board will recognize the staffs at a June 23 reception before the board meeting, Lynn said.

In August, the schools also will be recognized at a state educational leadership conference in Charleston, W.Va., she said.

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