ERLANGER, Ky. -- Teachers at Arnett Elementary School have spoken, and the consensus is that theirs is one of the top schools in Kentucky.
The school – which is on Kimberley Drive in Erlanger and is one of four elementary schools in the Erlanger-Elsmere Independent School District – was awarded Winners’ Circle Honors as one of the top 10 schools in the state. The announcement was made during the third annual Continuous Improvement Summit Sept. 21-22 in Lexington. The designation was the result of a five-phase review process, which took into account TELL (Teaching, Empowering, Leading and Learning) Survey responses as well as student achievement.
“We have shown through that survey the last couple cycles that we have performed well,” said former principal Matt Engel, who is now the district’s supervisor of instruction.
Kentucky Department of Education officials first selected 66 schools from around the state that showed exemplary performance. From the pool of honorable mentions, department representatives chose one school from each of Kentucky’s judicial districts and three at-large schools to make up the top 10 in the state.
Arnett Elementary, which has 345 students from preschool through fifth grade, achieved Honorable Mention status in 2012 and 2013.
Although the school has a history of high performance, making it into the top 10 was “a very pleasant surprise,” Engel said.
“I think it’s a true reflection of what’s happening here within the classrooms and the halls every day,” said Arnett Elementary Principal Amanda New.
The TELL Survey is a nationally recognized survey that measures teachers’ feelings about their working conditions. It covers topics ranging from time, facilities and resources to teacher and school leadership and professional development.
The trust between teachers and administrators in the building is a major factor in the positive survey results, Engel said.
“We feel trusted to do our jobs. We feel trusted to take a standard and deliver it in the way that we feel is most appropriate,” he said.
Communication also played a role in teachers’ feedback, New said.
“There are high levels of collaboration and communication among colleagues and staff,” she said.
The positive atmosphere created by the trust, communication and collaboration trickles down to students and can be seen in the state's assessment, Engel said.
The student achievement component yielded its own surprise when the district received its state report card results Oct. 1. Arnett Elementary students outperformed 98 percent of students in elementary schools across the state, earning their school the designation of Distinguished School of Distinction.
Whether taking into consideration the survey results or the student achievement aspect, being placed in the top 10 schools in the state is “an indicator that the school is focused on success,” said Erlanger-Elsmere superintendent Kathy Burkhardt.
“It’s a perfect example of what we’re trying to do district-wide,” she said.
While faculty, staff and students took time to celebrate their recent successes, they already have begun to look forward and focus on continuing and improving their achievements.
“We’ve already looked into and know what we’re working on, and changes have already been made in classrooms to address those areas of growth,” New said.