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Horizon’s innovations earns banner school status

Published 9:50pm Monday, April 8, 2013

MADISON – The Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools (CLAS) has selected Horizon Elementary School as a CLAS Banner School.

Horizon Principal Rodney Richardson received official documents from CLAS on April 2. A committee of distinguished administrators judged applicant schools.

The council created the CLAS program in 2001 “to recognize schools in Alabama that demonstrate outstanding programs and service to students,” Leslie Dennis said. Dennis works at CLAS headquarters in Montgomery.

“Horizon’s school motto, ‘The path to the future starts at Horizon,’ is taken seriously by the faculty and staff, and careful attention is given to the strengths and weaknesses evidenced by achievement data,” Dennis stated in Horizon’s notification letter.

“Out of identified gaps in this data, the ‘Soaring Eagles’ tutoring program was born,” Dennis said. Students who demonstrated weaknesses in reading, math or both were “immersed in intensive Tier III instruction consistently for 25 weeks.” Three certified teachers tutored students in 30-minute sessions, three days each week.

As a result of the tutoring initiatives, students have shown marked gains in achievement scores.

“Horizon’s faculty engages in effective, best practices daily to meet the needs of all students. Teachers have the opportunity and are encouraged to collaborate, and honest reflection guides the faculty to improved educational practices,” Dennis said.

In addition, Horizon students have options to exercise leadership skills. Students design and produce programming for HETV, Horizon’s morning television show. Episodes include skits on character education, student and staff achievements, birthdays and school announcements.

Older students serve as Horizon ambassadors and monitor hallways, help with morning and afternoon car lines and conduct tours. Upper-grade classes also partner with lower grades as book buddies.

“No matter how challenging the journey, the path to the future starts at Horizon,” Dennis said.

Founded in 1969, the council first targeted professional development for Alabama’s public school administrators. CLAS now serves 11 affiliate groups representing all public schools.

Richardson and Superintendent Dr. Dee Fowler will be recognized at a CLAS awards luncheon in Montgomery this month.

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