Students at Jones Elementary School in Springdale, Arkansas face many potential obstacles to learning, including poverty, hunger, and trouble speaking and reading English. Eight years ago, only 26 percent of students were reading on grade level. With effective use of data, and real collaboration, the principal and teachers at Jones raised that to 73 percent.
“Poverty isn’t destiny,” says Principal Melissa Fink. Her team is overcoming students’ challenges by believing that every child can succeed at very high levels and creating a culture of excellence.
Teachers across the nation come to school every day hoping to make a difference in their students’ lives, and they are making meaningful changes in their classrooms. At Jones, they are doing it with a whole new level of teamwork. As teacher Jennifer Mills put it, “I used to think about just my classroom. Now, I care about the collective whole of fourth grade.” With help from principals like Fink and other educators, teachers can collaborate and set goals to challenge themselves and their students.
Fink and the teachers at Jones Elementary School work as a team to receive feedback, and they listen to and learn from each other. They also put data to work for them.
“We make all decisions at our school based on what the data tell us. We’re not just talking about test score data,” says Fink. “We’re talking about the data that teachers are collecting on a day-to-day basis in their classroom.”
We will continue highlighting extraordinary educators doing remarkable things in classrooms nationwide in our video series. To learn more, visit our Partners in Progress page.