School State Superintendent Richard Woods bestowed a special recognition to ten DeKalb County School District (DCSD) schools for their outstanding performance in literacy, which he presented during a visit to Avondale Elementary School on September 15.

The distinguished schools earning the honors were Avondale Elementary, Austin Elementary, Dunaire Elementary, International Community, Leadership Preparatory Academy, McLendon Elementary, Montgomery Elementary, Museum School of Avondale Estates, Oak Grove Elementary, and Vanderlyn Elementary. Each was celebrated for their exceptional reading achievements and was presented with a commemorative Literacy Leader Banner to signify the accomplishment.

Superintendent Woods applauded the hard work of both principals and teachers at the schools. To earn the banner, schools had to achieve 90 percent and above in reading on the Georgia Milestones Assessment or demonstrate a significant 15-point increase in reading scores.

Austin, Museum School, Montgomery, Oak Grove, and Vanderlyn received blue ribbons for achieving 90 percent and above to hang on their banners. Avondale, Dunaire, International Community, Leadership Preparatory Academy, and McLendon received green ribbons for having impressive 15-point increases in reading scores.

“We wanted to make sure that we recognize both ends of the spectrum. If you are looking at reaching 90 percent, it looks like it is a million miles away. However, it is achievable,” Superintendent Woods said, setting ambitious goals for the entire state to triple the number of schools achieving 90 percent or higher in the next three years.

DeKalb County Board of Education member Whitney McGinniss stressed the importance of literacy as the foundation of education, acknowledging its critical role in teaching all other subjects.

“The work that you are doing is critical; it is foundational, and we are thankful for the work that you do every day in the classrooms,” said Mrs. McGinniss.

DCSD Superintendent Dr. Devon Q. Horton said this recognition is a testament to each school’s commitment to fostering a solid reading culture.

“Literacy is a fundamental skill that empowers students and paves the way for endless possibilities,” Dr. Horton said. “The academic achievements of these elementary schools in promoting literacy are truly commendable and deserve to be celebrated.”

Avondale Elementary third-grade teacher Ashley Grayson, the school’s teacher of the year, said she is humbled to be recognized for her hard work. She said she had tutoring sessions with her students on Tuesdays and Thursdays to help improve their reading skills.

“We connected them with readers who are on their level because we wanted to meet the students at their l

evel to set a solid foundation and help them grow from there,” Ms. Grayson said. “I appreciate my administrative team, my colleagues, my students, the staff, and the community for recognizing that the hard work I put in every day is working and being effective with the students.”

Former Austin Elementary third-grade teacher Lisa Fields, who recently retired, said she and her colleagues did some research to help their students improve their reading scores.

“The biggest thing was looking at MAP scores, building groups based on where they are, teaching them where they are, and if they need extra support, then we provide them what is needed,” Ms. Fields said. “We also had them write five paragraphs. Most of them were ready for that challenge.

“Teachers work hard, and when you are finally recognized, it is nice,” Ms. Fields added.

Events like this highlight academic achievements and underscore educators’ commitment and dedication to fostering a love for reading and academic success among students.

Keep up the excellent work!

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