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Cabot school makes list of Schools to Watch

By Lisa Burnett

This article was published January 12, 2014 at 12:00 a.m.

cabot-middle-school-north-faculty-from-the-left-stephanie-harper-principal-dawn-peeples-terri-duncan-and-wendi-pickard-hold-the-arkansas-diamond-school-to-watch-plaque-the-school-has-been-re-designated-as-a-2014-arkansas-diamond-school-to-watch

Cabot Middle School North faculty, from the left, Stephanie Harper, Principal Dawn Peeples, Terri Duncan and Wendi Pickard hold the Arkansas Diamond School to Watch plaque. The school has been re-designated as a 2014 Arkansas Diamond School to Watch.

CABOT — When it comes to being a model school, Cabot Middle School North is showing other schools how it’s done. The school was named to the 2014 Arkansas Diamond Schools to Watch list at the end of December.

The Schools to Watch program identifies schools across the United States that are on their way to meeting the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform’s criteria for high performance, according to the forum’s website. Three qualifications in particular must be met in order for a school to receive this designation: The school must be academically excellent, developmentally responsive and socially equitable.

Dawn Peeples, principal of Cabot Middle School North, said she’s honored for her school to get re-designated to this list.

“This is a great reflection of what our building does,” she said. “You can’t earn this award if it’s not an orchestrated effort.”

The school received its first designation as a School to Watch in 2008 and was re-designated in 2011. Every three years, a school can reapply to achieve the Schools to Watch designation.

Wendi Pickard, instructional facilitator for Cabot Middle School North, said the application process is quite extensive.

“There are eight different parts to the application process, and it includes a plethora of information that showcases the different things at your school,” Pickard said. “We have to provide three years’ worth of testing data, and we have to provide information on our teachers as far as their certification areas.”

This includes awards teachers have received, grants they’ve helped write, publications they have been part of and a list of degrees the teachers hold.

“The application also asks for the school population, and it breaks it down into male/female and the different demographics,” Pickard said. “There are also several questions you have to answer that specifically ask what sets you apart and what makes your school different from any other middle school.”

Peeples said that not only does the application process highlight the school’s strengths; the school must also address areas where improvements are needed.

“It’s not just showcasing what you’re good at,” she said. “It’s acknowledging the whole package.”

Pickard and other administrative staff members of Cabot Middle School North put together the application and said the teachers and staff were incredible when it came to having the materials they needed for the application.

“We never had to create anything,” Pickard said. “Everything was always just right there at our fingertips. If I said, ‘I need documentation of an integrated lesson,’ I had 15 different ones at my disposal.”

Stephanie Harper, one of the assistant principals at Cabot Middle School North, said the designation gives the school a way to show off what great teachers it has.

“We can showcase our teachers for what they do because they do this every day,” she said.

The school will receive a banner and plaque to indicate the school’s third naming to the Schools to Watch list.

“This really reaffirms what we’re here to do and that we are working for the same common goal — for the students,” Pickard said.

A group of staff members will travel to the state Schools to Watch Conference in Hot Springs in May and to the national conference in Washington, D.C., in the summer, Peeples said.

“We’ll showcase one of our advisory programs or something that could benefit another school because that’s our audience at these conferences,” she said.

More information about the Schools to Watch program is available at www.middlegradesforum.org.

Staff writer Lisa Burnett can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or lburnett@arkansasonline.com.

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