Victor H. Hexter Elementary School in the White Rock Lake area recently got the U.S. Deparment of Education’s highest award for a school. Hexter is now a Blue Ribbon school, which means the government deems it an example for other schools. To win the award, Hexter demonstrated two things:
*Students scored in the top 10 percent of the state on the TAKS.
*At least 40 percent of its students come from disadvantaged backgrounds and have demonstrated dramatic improvement on the TAKS.
Hexter also has an Exemplary rating, the highest category in the Texas Education Agency’s ranking system. Principal Jolee Healey rewarded her students and staff one day last week, when everyone wore blue, and they had a hot dog dinner and a performance from the Bryan Adams High School Belles.
Q&A with principal Healey after the jump.
Q.How has Hexter improved?
A. Our students’ success is largely due to the incredibly talented and devoted teachers who expect the best from students daily. Their dedication and united focus on school-wide goals has enabled our students to dramatically increase achievement as measured by double digit gains on state assessments.
Q. What practices have led to this improvement?
A. Weekly grade level meetings, where teachers engage in collegial study of curriculum documents and share effective teaching and learning artifacts. Teachers meet monthly to identify school-wide needs within their content area, create initiatives, and implement research-based best practices. Using district-provided tools for data, curriculum, and professional development has ensured a successful cycle of continuous campus improvement.
Q. What could I expect to see in a Hexter classroom?
A. Learning comes to life at Hexter. Classrooms are filled with deep discussions, problem-solving, purposeful reading, and reflective writing. Students socialize their learning in groups while articulating connections, citing evidence, and building on each others’ ideas. Teachers are skilled in small group instruction to ensure differentiation for all students at appropriate levels.
Q. Is there anything you all are working on now that you’re excited about?
A. As another point of celebration, our school was recently awarded a garden grant. This grant will fund the expansion of our garden and the addition of equipment for composting, collecting rain water, and much more. We see our garden as a magical place, full of opportunities to apply science, math, writing, and other critical thinking skills.
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