McDuffie County elementary principals joined school board officials and staff members at the annual Georgia Department of Education Schools of Excellence Celebration held Wednesday, May 5 at the Georgia World Congress Center.
"We had a great time. We had 32 tickets. We had two board members go, two administrators... all four principals... staff members... It was just a great affair, and we enjoyed ourselves very much," McDuffie School Superintendent Mark Petersen said.
The celebration is hosted by Kathy Cox, the State School Superintendent, and honors schools which are Title I and have made adequate yearly progress for five or more consecutive years.
The Title I Distinguished Schools Program was established as part of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Schools that meet or exceed adequate yearly progress for three consecutive years, have made the greatest gains in closing achievement gaps between disaggregated student groups, and have not been on the Unsafe School Choice Option List are identified as Title I Distinguished schools. All four McDuffie County elementary schools are Title I Distinguished schools.
"Tonight we honor schools that have achieved excellence in Georgia. These schools represent the best of the best in education across our great state. Title I Distinguished Schools truly demonstrate that excellence knows no template limited by external factors such as income level, geography, or background. No, excellence comes from within...within the walls of the school itself. And it is achieved, without fail, by hard work over time," Mrs. Cox said at the beginning of the program.
In addition to recognition at the banquet, these schools also receive a certificate of recognition and a monetary award. The amount awarded varies each year, depending on the number of recipients and the percentage of children attending the school who are from low income families. Awarded monetary funds must be used for educational purposes only. According to the Georgia DOE website, Dearing Elementary was awarded $2,250 and recognized for making AYP for four years, Maxwell and Thomson Elementary were awarded $10,000 and recognized for making AYP for seven years and Norris Elementary was awarded $15,500 and recognized for making AYP for five years.