Oct 1, 2009 2:55 PM by Andy Koen
Education reforms put in place in Harrison School District 2 seem to be taking hold. The district has steadily increased it's academic achievement over the past three years with the most dramatic gains coming in the 2008 C-SAP scores. As a district, Harrison students improved their tests scores by 86% last year, well above the statewide average of 32%.
Additionally, Soaring Eagles Elementary School was recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School, a distinction only give to 314 schools in the country.
The school was given the award for achieving sustained academic growth for the past 5 years.
"Sometimes, you wonder if your hard work is ever recognized or ever pays off, and then when it pays off big and you're recognized with a national award, that's pretty exciting," said Soaring Eagles principal Kelli Trausch.
Harrison's journey hasn't been an easy one. In 2005, the district was placed on academic watch and was at risk of being taken over by the state.
"I think there was an understanding, with everybody ... that something had to change," said superintendent Mike Miles.
Miles, the school board and the rest of the central administration office have implemented a myriad of changes, all of which were aimed at elevating student achievement. Included among the reforms are the adoption of a 21st curriculum at certain schools, the implementation of a district wide incentive pay program for teachers and the holding of semi-annual leadership workshops.
"People can be proud that they've made significant gains for kids and all of the hard work and all of the challenges and all of the work we've put into is paying off," Miles said.
School board president Debra Hendricks said the excitement generated by their recent achievements is contagious.
"The kids are feeling good about what's going because the teachers are showing that extra boost of energy saying look at what we did this year, we can do even better next year so everybody's kind of on the bandwagon."