ST. CLAIR — St. Clair Elementary School has been named a Tennessee Reward School for 2019.

Reward Schools are identified annually by the Tennessee Department of Education, and this is the top distinction schools can earn.

“St. Clair did receive a reward school status for the 2019 school year based on our data from our TNReady testing,” explained Principal Mary Ann Davis. “Reward school status is based on achievement, growth and chronic absenteeism.”

“We showed gains in student growth and achievement in math and ELA (English Language Arts) school-wide,” added Teacher Leader Sarah Hughes. “

This is not something the school faculty and staff take lightly.

“We were jumping-up-and-down surprised,” Davis said of the day she received the news.

Positivity can go a long way“I think it’s really important that we have a really positive culture as a school,” Hughes explained. “Our school certainly is the best around for positivity and a great culture.”

She attributed the school’s success to “hard work, a great work ethic and positivity.”

Davis also noted her appreciation for the community’s involvement in school programs.

“Our students are working very hard, as are the staff, teachers and instructional assistants,” she said. “We also have our community very involved with us. I think all of those things put together is how we got our status.”

Where can you go from here?In looking to the future, Davis explained that, for a small school such as St. Clair Elementary, it is difficult to show gains every year—especially if most of the students are already performing as they should be.

“If you’re good, it’s hard to make those gains,” she said. “But, we do still have room to grow.”

She went on to explain that, in order to give every student the attention they deserve, the school targets one of the Tennessee Dept. of Education’s listed subgroups of historically underserved students each year. Those subgroups include Black, Hispanic and Native American students; economically disadvantaged students; English learners; and students with disabilities.

“Last year, we focused on our economically disadvantaged students,” Davis said. “We worked with them, pulled their data and made them aware of what they could do to do just a little bit better.”

Though she noted that economically disadvantaged students will still receive care and attention, this year’s goal is to see the same kind of gains in students with disabilities.