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Two award-winning high schools have UM connection

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MONTEVALLO—Two high schools in Alabama were among only six in the nation that recently received the National School Change Award, sponsored by the National Principals Leadership Institute, and both have a connection to the University of Montevallo.

At Minor High School in Adamsville, a suburb of Birmingham, achievement levels are up in every grade and every subject, attendance and graduation rates are up, and disciplinary problems are down. David Pike, who received a bachelor’s degree in 1976 and a master’s degree in 1983, both from UM, is principal at Minor High. Pike and his faculty and staff have implemented several new programs including a blitz tutoring program to help students prepare for the Alabama High School Graduation Exam; the Freshman Academy, which separates freshmen from upperclassmen and helps students make the transition from middle school to high school; and an AP College Ready Initiative, which encourages students to enroll in Advanced Placement courses and possibly receive college credit for them. A plan is also in place to increase the number of National Board Certified teachers.

Winterboro High School in Talladega County is led by principal Craig Bates, who received a master’s degree from the University of Montevallo in 2003 and is currently pursuing the educational specialist degree in instructional leadership at UM. At Winterboro High, test scores showed significant improvements, discipline levels were down and graduation rates increased. Bates credited the collaboration among teachers, staff members and students with the improvements in 21st Century and project-based learning. In addition to the award from the NPLI, Winterboro High School also earned one of 78 Green Ribbon School Awards from the United States Department of Education. These awards recognize schools across the nation that save energy, reduce costs, feature environmentally sustainable learning spaces, protect health, foster wellness, and offer environmental education to boost academic achievement and community engagement.

The National School Change Award, begun in 2000, recognizes six schools annually that once struggled but that have been turned around after the implementation of significant changes in teaching practices and interdisciplinary learning programs. Schools are measured against 16 specific criteria to determine the degree of improvement.

Dr. Anna E. McEwan, dean of the University of Montevallo’s college of education, congratulated both principals for their leadership. She said, “In an era of unprecedented challenges for our public schools, these principals are to be commended as effective and innovative school leaders! They represent everything we hope to cultivate in the graduate students who complete our instructional leadership programs, and we could not be more proud of their accomplishments!”