The school will serve as a showcase school for the Great Expectations Program and will be visited by other schools and districts that want to follow in their footsteps. “Washington Elementary is truly a shining star in the community, state, and nation,” said Cheryl Price, Director of Great Expectations. “They are to be highly commended for their efforts. We are overjoyed to add them to our list of ‘Showcase Schools.’” Only 58 sites received Model School Recognition this year.
Washington Elementary School will be recognized for this outstanding achievement during their Great Expectations Model School Celebration, which will be held Friday, March 12, at the school, located at 311 East Cypress. From noon to 1 p.m., a luncheon will be held for faculty and staff, as well as local and state dignitaries. The school invites attendees to join teachers and students in their Great Expectations classrooms for visits and tours at 1 p.m., and the Model School Award Assembly will be held at 2 p.m.
At the 2 p.m. Model School Award Celebration, the students, staff, and faculty of Washington Elementary will be recognized through presentations from Superintendent Bob Drury, Altus Mayor T.L. Gramling, representatives from the Altus Chamber of Commerce, officials from the Great Expectations Program, as well as other state and local dignitaries. The public is invited to attend to help Washington celebrate this momentous occasion.
Washington Elementary School was also recently honored at a statewide Model School Celebration held on February 25, at the University of Central Oklahoma.
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.
Rather than the philosophy of WHAT to teach, Great Expectations methodology focuses on the learning climate and the HOW of teaching. It is a “how we teach” method that boosts student achievement, academically and socially. State Superintendent Sandy Garrett said, “The Great Expectations philosophy and professional development are enhancing the focus in many of the Oklahoma schools. Creating a caring and learner-focused climate is the core of the Great Expectations success story.”
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.