Alice M. Harte Charter School Named NIET Founder's Award Finalist and Receives $10,000 for Building Leaders from Within

March 7, 2019

Alice M. Harte Charter School Named NIET Founder's Award Finalist and Receives $10,000 for Building Leaders from Within

Harte among five schools nationwide in running for $50,000 NIET Founder’s Award

Santa Monica, Calif.—Head of School Robert Hill and his team have worked diligently to develop "committed, motivated and tenacious individuals" to lead student achievement growth. The National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET) rewarded those efforts today by selecting InspireNOLA's Alice M. Harte Charter School in New Orleans, Louisiana, among five finalists across the U.S. for the 2019 NIET Founder's Award. Created by NIET Chairman and Founder Lowell Milken, the Founder's Award is given annually to one school for exceptional implementation of NIET's principles to build educator excellence and advance student success.

Each finalist receives a plaque and $10,000. The winner, to be announced during NIET's National Conference in New Orleans on March 22, 2019, will take home the grand prize of $50,000.

On the ground for two decades, NIET has partnered with schools, districts, states and universities to ensure that all students have access to talented teachers every year they are in school. It does so by helping schools create formal structures for teacher leadership; regular, job-embedded professional learning; and a system for educator support, observation and feedback tied to high expectations and real time needs of teachers and students. Today, NIET's initiatives are impacting more than 250,000 educators and 2.5 million students.

"Alice Harte's commitment to pursuing instructional excellence should be held as a model for schools across the nation," says Lowell Milken. "The staff works diligently to ensure the success of all teachers in growing every student."

"This finalist award is well-deserved as Alice Harte is showing what students and teachers are capable of when they receive the support they need," says NIET CEO Dr. Candice McQueen. "We are proud to see the successes they have accomplished so far and look forward to watching them continue to build on this progress."

Inside Alice M. Harte
Through partnering with NIET, Alice M. Harte has seen rich assessment dialogue centered around student work and teacher leadership structures become vital to the school community. Teachers regularly reflect on their practices, striving to grow as educators to make the greatest impact on their students.

"We take pride in advancing teacher leadership and educator effectiveness," says Head of School Robert Hill. "We have been blessed with the opportunity to provide our teachers with resources and a credible system that impacts student achievement directly."

Classroom teachers jump at the opportunities for advancement built into the NIET system, which has established a pipeline of educator talent and has motivated teachers to stay. Over the past few years, three of the school’s mentor teachers have grown to become master teachers, and three of the masters have become academy principals.

Every educator in the building has been instilled with a leadership mindset. The charter network office for InspireNOLA recognizes this and "is constantly tapping into Harte teachers as the model for K-8 educators in the network," according to Hill. Even classroom teachers are leading professional development sessions for other teachers in the charter network, sharing their approaches to analyzing school data, delivering best professional practices, and planning engaging and meaningful lessons to meet the needs of the state's new Tier One curriculum.

The collaboration among staff at the school fostered through data-driven weekly professional learning, complemented by regular feedback and observation, has led to instructional improvement and increased student achievement growth.

For example, in looking at 2017 data from the Louisiana Education Assessment Program (LEAP) test during an English language arts (ELA) cluster, staff noticed that Harte's students were struggling with nonfiction reading comprehension. By teachers implementing specific strategies targeting this need, almost every grade level in the school improved their state ELA LEAP scores in 2018. The school also notched an "A" state grade for school progress in 2017-18.

About the NIET Founder's Award
Funded by the Lowell Milken Family Foundation, the NIET Founder's Award comes with a $50,000 cash prize to be used toward instructional improvement efforts. The finalists will be recognized at a luncheon on Friday, March 22, 2019, during the 19th Annual National NIET Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, before more than 1,000 educators, policymakers, researchers and other influential leaders. The winner will be announced at the end of the luncheon.

Alice M. Harte joins fellow NIET Founder's Award finalists Cross County Elementary Technology Academy in Cross County School District, Arkansas; Desert View Elementary in Gadsden Elementary School District #32, Arizona; Dodson Branch School in Jackson County Schools, Tennessee; and Wildflower School in Avondale Elementary School District #44, Arizona.

NIET Founder's Award recipients are selected by NIET. The finalists were selected based on their efforts to make instructional excellence the cornerstone of school improvement; plan for regular professional learning focused on daily needs of teachers and students; create a culture of collaboration and reflection, and create leadership teams made of teacher leaders and administrators.

The NIET Founder's Award yields benefits that will strengthen the individual school and support its teachers. This is done by means of prominent public recognition and by opportunities to substantively interact on issues of educator effectiveness and student learning with leaders from government, business and academia.

Photos from the NIET Founder's Award finalists' recognition luncheon on March 22 will be available for download at

For interviews with the NIET Founder's Award finalists during the conference or to attend, contact Jana Rausch at or (310) 435-9259. For more information, visit Follow conference news on Facebook at NIETteach and Twitter @NIETteach or via #NIET19.

About NIET
On the ground for two decades, NIET partners with schools, districts, states and universities to develop formal systems for building educator excellence and advancing student success. Today, NIET's initiatives impact more than 250,000 educators and 2.5 million students.