Six schools from across the country were chosen to receive the 2002 National School Change Award, which is given annually to schools that have dramatically improved students’ academic accomplishments. The award, created in 2000, is given by Fordham University’s Graduate School of Education and the Chase Manhattan Foundation. “These are heroic stories,” said Lew Smith, Ed.D., associate professor and di-rector of Fordham’s Center for Educational Research and Leadership. “These are tales of superintendents, principals and school teams that would not accept their school’s levels of performance and set about creating change.”
The National School Change Award brings national recognition and a $5,000 grant to six schools from across the country who have met the challenge of leading school change. This year’s winners are: Belmont Elementary, Lincoln, Neb.; Bensley Elementary, Richmond, Va.; Henry W. Grady High School, Atlanta, Ga.; Liberty Elementary, Nyack, N.Y.; Shreve Island Elementary, Shreveport, La.; and Warren Travis White High School, Dallas, TX. A blue-ribbon committee selected the winners out of 55 nominees from 22 states. The committee is comprised of educators, school leaders, foundation officials and leaders in business, the arts, the non-profit sector and government. The schools had to meet at least 10 out of 16 criteria, which together indicate that they have experienced substantial, rather than superficial, change.
“These schools all made significant changes that have been sustained and have positively impacted the lives of its students,” said Smith. “The winners tend to be schools that have sustained the change for several years.” An added benefit of this annual search is its promotion of conversation and self-reflection, Smith said. In order for a school to be nominated, it has to conduct an intensive, introspective analysis to prove that it has significantly changed. Even if the schools find they are unable to meet the nomination criteria, they are still able to benefit from the information attained in the self-analysis, Smith said. In addition to receiving national recognition, the winning schools will also be used as research sites from which other institutions can learn.
Fordham has invited the six principals to attend the National Principals Leadership Institute, held at the University in July, where they will share their stories with school leaders from across the country. “[This] is an important project that reflects progress toward the goal that all Americans want for our children to be a nation of high-performing schools filled with successful, engaged students,” said Gene R. Carter, executive director of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD). “ASCD is pleased to be involved in this important school change initiative.” Founded in 1943, ASCD, is an international, non-profit association that pro-vides world-class education information services, offers cutting-edge professional development for effective teaching and learning, and supports activities to provide educational equity for all students.