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Lowell Milken TAP Founder's Award

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Southport Elementary School in Perry Township, Indiana, Receives $50,000 TAP Founder's Award

Prestigious honor created by Lowell Milken recognizes Indianapolis School for distinction in advancing educator effectiveness and student achievement
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New Orleans, Louisiana—Lowell Milken, chairman of the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET) and founder of TAP: The System for Teacher and Student Advancement, today surprised faculty of Southport Elementary School in Perry Township Schools, Indiana, with the prestigious TAP Founder's Award. The Indianapolis school's student achievement levels have soared even while experiencing significantly increased numbers of English Language Learners (ELLs) and high poverty rates, offering proof that when teachers succeed, students achieve.

The award, which includes a $50,000 prize to be used toward continuing to improve classroom teaching and student success, was presented at the 16th National TAP Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, before 1,000 educators, policymakers, researchers and other influential leaders. Principal Dr. Danny Mendez accepted the award on the school's behalf.     

Southport Elementary School was selected among six award finalists from a diverse set of districts across the country. The other finalists were Clarendon Elementary School in Phoenix, Arizona; Dodson Branch Elementary School in Cookeville, Tennessee; Greer Middle College Charter High School in Taylors, South Carolina; Mansfield High School in Mansfield, Louisiana; and Somerset High School in Somerset, Texas.

Funded by the Lowell Milken Family Foundation, the TAP Founder's Award is given annually to one school for exceptional efforts to implement and represent the principles of the TAP System – resulting in significant and sustained increases in student achievement, among other goals.

The TAP System is America's leading comprehensive educator effectiveness model that aligns teacher leadership, daily job-embedded professional development, meaningful evaluation and support, and opportunities for performance-based compensation. TAP has been on the ground for more than a decade. It supports schools, districts, universities and states in their missions to strengthen classroom instruction with the ultimate goal of improving learning growth for all students.

"Talented educators have the power to influence policy and practice on a broad scale through leadership, persistence and sharing their valuable experiences with others," said Lowell Milken. "From day one of TAP implementation, Danny Mendez has been that kind of leader. He sets high expectations, maintains a sharp focus on building capacity to meet them, and never falters under increasing educational challenges. Danny embodies what the school calls 'The Southport Way,' doing 'whatever it takes' to raise student achievement. I commend the entire faculty and student body on this most worthy recognition."

Mendez has described Southport Elementary School as "empowered, reflective and limitless" as a result of TAP’s implementation there beginning in the 2011-12 school year. One of his main goals for adopting the TAP structure was to close achievement gaps, particularly for ELLs, special education, and economically disadvantaged students.

Read the full 2016 TAP Founder's Award press release: Southport Elementary School