The National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET) announced today that Logansport High School in DeSoto Parish Schools, Louisiana, has earned $10,000 for its selection as an NIET Founder's Award finalist. The school is among five across the country under consideration for the $50,000 grand prize, which will be announced at the NIET National Conference in Dallas, Texas on Thursday, March 10, 2022, at 12 p.m. CT.
"Logansport High School Principal Diana Curtis leads a cohesive team committed to a shared vision of high expectations for every educator and student – and it shows," said NIET Chairman and Founder Lowell Milken. "Their efforts to advance the effectiveness of their faculty has enabled the whole school forward and embody 'The DeSoto Difference.' I applaud Principal Curtis and Superintendent Clay Corley for their dedication to transforming goals into realities every day."
For more than 20 years, NIET has partnered with schools, districts, states, and universities to ensure all students have effective educators. Its work to develop teacher leaders, support successful instructional strategies, and build educator capacity to address student needs have served more than 9,000 schools and have impacted more than 275,000 teachers and 2.75 million students.
NIET's partner schools have shown success by both outperforming similar schools and having greater teacher retention. Schools including Logansport High School have continued to advance during the pandemic through the use of NIET's tools and resources to support instructional excellence and learning acceleration, provide coaching from expert leaders and trainers, and engage a large network of educators united around shared learning. The Founder's Award was created by Lowell Milken to honor one school annually for exceptional implementation of NIET's principles to build educator excellence and advance student success.
"As a school that serves a diverse student population in grades PreK through 12, Logansport's educators face some uncommon challenges," said NIET Co-President Laura Encalade. "Principal Curtis' unifying motto of 'One Team, One Dream, One Heartbeat' exemplifies Logansport High School's commitment to creating consistent, high-quality instruction at every level of their school so every student can be successful."
Founder's Award recipients are selected by NIET based on their efforts to make instructional excellence the cornerstone of school improvement; plan for regular professional learning focused on real-time needs of teachers and students; create a culture of collaboration and reflection; and leverage teacher leaders and administrators to drive student growth. Logansport has employed these principles in a comprehensive way as part of a district-wide effort to implement NIET's TAP System for Teacher and Student Advancement starting in 2008.
What Sets Logansport High Apart
Logansport High School, located in DeSoto Parish, serves 590 students from preschool through 12th grade. Of the enrolled students, 68% receive free or reduced-price lunch benefits. Through the TAP System, Principal Diana Curtis and her team have been able to use common language and consistent structures to create a unified vision and set of goals for all of Logansport’s teachers and students.
"NIET has given us the roadmap that we use to get to the point of success," said Curtis. "Through our leadership team meetings, our cluster meetings, and our professional development, we grow together. We have a common vision and a common goal. We navigate the issues along the way so we can get to the end goal of serving our students to the best of our ability."
While many schools have declined academically during the pandemic, Logansport increased its School Performance Score, which is based on student achievement data, by five points from 2019 to 2021. Logansport also maintained its percentage of students scoring at mastery and above across all subjects in 2019 and 2021, and increased its percentage scoring mastery and above in math by 3 percentage points from 2018 to 2021.
One element of TAP that has transformed Logansport is the establishment of its first instructional leadership team (ILT). By consistently bringing together its educator experts across content areas and grade levels, Logansport’s ILT has been able to create alignment at every level of the school. The ILT organized teachers based on grade level and type of support needed, and then developed their own capacity to provide meaningful, differentiated support for teachers. "Our instructional leadership team knew that teacher support was key to teacher and student success," said Curtis. "As we systematically leveraged this support, the ILT became the hub of our school."
Implementing a multi-factor feedback system, including surveys and individualized coaching support, has also been a key lever in teacher growth at Logansport. "To make sure that all teachers are supported equally, we have developed a learning walk schedule so that each teacher is supported weekly by a different member of the ILT," said Curtis. "The impact of this process results in all teachers receiving feedback from a variety of experienced teachers in different areas of study."
Logansport High School joins fellow finalists Brown County High School (Brown County Schools, Indiana); Southport 6th Grade Academy (Perry Township Schools, Indiana); Cross County High School (Cross County School District, Arkansas); and Somerset Elementary (Somerset Independent School District, Texas) in contention for the $50,000 grand prize.
For images of Logansport High and more information about NIET, visit the NIET newsroom. For interviews and requests to attend the Founder's Award announcement, please contact Jenny Sawyer at firstname.lastname@example.org or (256) 652-1376. Learn more about the conference at www.niet.org. Follow conference news – including the Founder's Award – on Facebook and Twitter @NIETteach or via #NIET2022.