As Alabama students begin their first full week of school in 2017, we would like to recognize the excellent work of those school systems who participated in the 3rd annual Alabama’s Best Contest. We congratulate all those who entered the contest, our two runner-up winners, and our grand prize winner. We hope that learning about these impressive examples of best practices will inspire others in 2017.
The Alabama Association of School Boards (AASB) and LEAN Frog were delighted to continue our tradition of recognizing the great work of Alabama public education with our 3rd Annual “Alabama’s Best” K-12 Practices Contest. We received inspiring entries that covered the instructional and non-instructional spectrum. Departments such as Special Education, Career Tech, Student Services, Maintenance, Technology entered practices exhibiting strong pedagogical thought and exceptional creativity. More importantly they showed the intense dedication of our Alabama teachers, educational administrators, and communities to both support and enhance the learning opportunities for our students.
Some examples of best practice entries included:
- A robotics program that provides opportunities for students to learn precision machining and participate in community service projects
- Data collection and analysis of counseling services to better target high needs areas, improve direct student intervention, and educate parents and community members on important issues such as anxiety and drug use
- Replacement of inefficient metal halide lamps with LED lighting to save money and improve students’ ability to learn and perform
- A “Garden to table” catering program that enables adolescents and young adults with significant cognitive disabilities to acquire functional, academic, and vocational skills.
With all the great entries, competition was tight. We had several rounds of judging to identify the top three entries.
And the 3rd Annual Alabama’s Best winners are . . .
LEAN Frog recognized the winners of the contest at the AASB annual meeting in Birmingham. The collaborative efforts of each winning best practice tied nicely with AASB’s theme “Together We Can Soar.” The winning entries included:
- an online academy featuring teacher-directed, student-led instructional videos
- an Early Literacy Groups program highlighting teacher-paraprofessional collaboration
- a comprehensive elementary school STEM program that spans all grade levels
Crestline Elementary School (Hartselle City Schools) and Indian Valley Elementary School (Sylacauga City Schools) were the two-runner up entries. They each received $1000. Crestline Elementary’s entry, submitted by Instruction Partner Elisha Harris, features instructional videos as part of their Crestline Academy. The videos allow parents to help their children academically with concepts that have been presented in the classroom. Students and teachers created the videos to reinforce College and Career Ready standards/strategies for math and reading. Crestline Academy ensures students have access to instructional support when school is not in session or when students are absent. Indian Valley Elementary’s entry, submitted by Principal Monte Abner, focuses on collaboration between certified teachers and paraprofessionals. Their Early Literacy Groups (ELGs) deliver explicit reading instruction to students on their level. The ELGs’ emphasis on phonemic and phonological awareness, comprehensions, writing, and vocabulary have led to 68% of students meeting or exceeding grade level expectations. Additionally, 93% of kindergarten students are proficient in phonological awareness.
The grand prize winning entry from Barkley Bride Elementary School (Hartselle City Schools) received $3000. Barkley Bridge’s Best Practices in STEM, submitted by Principal Susan Hayes, documents their process for developing and maintaining a comprehensive STEM program for all grades at the school. From developing goals at the outset that aligned with the district’s strategic plan to involving parents and community partners, Barkley Bridge developed a sustainable approach to “STEM schooling” that has achieved teacher buy-in and significant increases in student ACT Aspire Math scores.
We thank and congratulate all those schools and school systems who submitted entries to the 3rd Annual Alabama’s Best Contest. You are all winners for the work you put in each day to improve the lives of students in Alabama’s public education system.
COMING THIS WEEK: The start of a six-part series profiling each of the winners of the Alabama and Tennessee’s Best Contests!