CEDAR CITY — A Southern Utah elementary school has earned national recognition for exceptional student performance and academic growth for two or more years.
Parowan Elementary School was named as one of the “superior, federally funded” schools according to the National Association of ESEA State Program Administrators. The school is one of two in the state – and the only one in Southern Utah – to receive this designation. The award is based on the number of students receiving free or reduced lunch and end of level assessment scores.
NAESPA has been selecting schools for national recognition since 1996, although it was initially called the National Title I Association. The program is run through the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which President Lyndon Johnson passed to initiated a “war on poverty.” The act intended to “close the skill gap” for children in low-income homes in the areas of reading, writing and mathematics.
Parowan Elementary Principal Trevor Heaton told Cedar City News he was surprised but honored when he initially heard about the award. There are many other schools, principals and teachers in the Iron County School District and in the state that deserve to be recognized for their work, he said, which makes this experience all the more humbling.
“It was quite a surprise,” he said. “We know we’ve done well on our assessments in the past, and I think we’ve continued to do that. It was an honor, honestly.”
Heaton said Utah schools do a wonderful job of educating the student as a whole person, and Parowan Elementary is no different. However, he said it’s the school’s small town and close-knit community that makes awards like these possible.
The school bases events around the community and uses positive supports and interventions to make both successes and missteps into teaching moments. Students are constantly working toward being “true Rams” – being respectful, accountable, making a difference and serving others. Teachers know each one of their students and are able to take the time to ensure they are excelling.
For schools that don’t necessarily have that small-town feel, Heaton said teachers can have the same effect by focusing on individual relationships. Taking the time to build relationships and letting the kids know that teachers care about them makes learning fun, comfortable and — in a sense — easier, he said.
“If that’s taken care of, then everything else falls into place,” he said.
Heaton said he doesn’t believe the data will shift very much in the coming years because he has a strong team that cares about their students and the community.
“I think it’s a neat recognition for the teachers who work hard every day,” he said. “I have really good professionals here, not only the teachers but the teaching assistants and the custodians.”
NAESPA will recognize Parowan Elementary at a national conference in Atlanta, Georgia, later this year.
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