Positive school culture a big part of St. Clair's 2019 Reward School honor

Jeff Bobo • Sep 23, 2019 at 6:30 PM

ROGERSVILLE — St. Clair Elementary School principal Mary Ann Davis and her staff weren't just pleasantly surprised to be named a Tennessee Reward School in 2019.

They were “jumping up and down” surprised.

Davis met with media Friday to discuss St. Clair's Reward School status and what they did to earn it.

Reward School status is based on academic achievement and growth in the annual TNReady testing that takes place every spring, as well as improving chronic absenteeism.

St. Clair's chronic absenteeism dropped by 3.3%, from 10.5% in 2017-18 to 7.2% in 2018-19.

Most small rural schools struggle with achievement and growth in subgroup categories such as students who are economically disadvantage (ED) and students with disabilities (SWD).

“Last year we targeted the ED subgroup, and those students’ scores increased,” Davis said. “This year we are continuing working with ED students, but we are focusing more on our SWD.”

Teacher leader Sarah Hughes noted that St. Clair showed improvement in math and English/language arts, which she attributes to hard work, great work ethic and positivity.

“I think it's really important that we have a really positive culture, and our school certainly is the best around for positivity and a great school culture,” Hughes said.

Davis said their success has a lot to do with building relationships with our students, parents and community.

“We are a small rural school, and we do a lot of individualized learning,” Davis said. “There are a lot of goal setting between the students and the teachers. Students know their data as well as their teachers know it. Each teacher embraces different learning styles within the classrooms. We are also a blended learning school, and we are one to one with I-pads and Chromebooks. We want our students to be high achievers.”

Davis added, “I credit the teachers, students and instructional assistants for the time and dedication that they put into their job each day. We are a family here at SCES, and we make things happen.”

This year they continue to work with ED and SWD students to hopefully build upon the gains they experienced last year.

“If you're good, it's hard to make those gains, but we still have room to grow,” Davis said.

Several central office staff led media on a tour of several schools Friday, including director Matt Hixson.

“I’m very proud of St. Clair’s reward school recognition this year,” Hixson said. “The staff and students’ efforts prove that no matter the obstacles in life, a supportive environment built on high expectations and rapport will make the difference. Kudos to Mary Ann and her staff for consistently supporting and challenging their students.”