During the 2011-2012 school year, Washington Elementary School of Altus was recognized as a Great Expectations Model School, an honor the school has received for the past three years in a row. Washington was one of only 85 schools in the nation to be recognized as a Great Expectations Model School this year. The school’s faculty and staff, as well as Principal Renee Long, have worked diligently to accomplish this impressive goal. “Washington Elementary is a showcase for the rewarding benefits that Great Expectations provides students, faculty, staff, parents and the community,” said Principal Long.
In honor of Washington’s achievement as a Model School, a Great Expectations Celebration was held in May. Guest speaker at the event was Dr. Linda Dzialo, CEO and president of Great Expectations. Washington’s students performed skits, student creeds, and songs, and the Altus High School Cheerleaders led the crowd of students and parents in Washington cheers. First National Bank of Altus sponsored the event.
As a Model School, Washington hosted eight other schools from across Oklahoma, who traveled to Altus this school year to observe the Great Expectations methodology.
The Great Expectations (GE) Program, founded in 1991, is a scientifically research-based educational reform model that is bringing major change and innovation to PK-12 public and private school classrooms across Oklahoma and the nation. The main objective of GE is to increase students’ intellectual knowledge, self-esteem, and social competencies. This program, researched and endorsed by Southwestern Educational Development Laboratory (SEDL) and Oklahoma University, is a program that provides teachers and administrators with the skills needed to create harmony and excitement within the school atmosphere, elements that are basic for inspiring students to pursue academic excellence.
With a focus on the human quality of teaching and learning, GE creates an infrastructure that promotes improved student self-esteem, attendance, discipline, and parent participation - all of which result in improved academic achievement. Drawing from many learning theories, professional development is grounded in the belief that all students can learn, no matter what labels have been placed on them.
Washington Elementary began training certified staff in the GE methodology in the 2004-2005 school year. Since that time, the school has experienced an increase in positive school climate, increased parent participation, increased student achievement, along with a decrease in discipline referrals. This has allowed the Washington staff the opportunity to intervene with students with intensive and specific modifications to identify and address each of their needs at their individualized level.
The Great Expectations Foundation extends recognition to a select few schools based on their success in implementing 17 teaching practices. For a school to receive Model School Recognition, it must show proficiency in every practice. Classroom observations are made by the Foundation to substantiate the level of implementation. For a school to be recognized, 90% of the certified teaching staff must implement 100% of the practices on a daily basis. Enriched vocabulary development, the teaching of critical thinking, quality communication skill usage by teachers and students, and a climate of positive discipline are just a few of the effective method practices that are evident in a Great Expectations Model School