Lincoln Elementary named model school again

by Laura Eastes of the Daily Ardmoreite

Reaching model status in the Great Expectations program is no easy feat, and Lincoln Elementary School has achieved it once again.

The prestigious status is the top award handed out by the Great Expectation Foundation. The program teaches 17 classroom practices intended to bring change and innovation to public school classrooms — breading a culture of respect and high academic achievement, according to the education foundation.

For schools to be awarded "model" status, at least 90 percent of teachers must successfully implement 100 percent of the 17 classroom practices daily.

Those familiar with the Great Expectations program know it can be challenging to reach certification and to maintain.

For the seventh consecutive year, Lincoln Elementary School has reached model school status, which was announced to students and staff in a "Friday Finale" assembly last month, says Principal Ellen Patty.

"We are excited to be named a model school for the seventh year," Patty said. "My staff works incredibly hard to achieve that status. We do it because it benefits both our students and staff, making our school climate one of mutual respect."

The Great Expectations program is based on creating a classroom climate of mutual respect, positive attitudes and building self-esteem in students. The program’s philosophy is to celebrate accomplishments and motivate students to be leaders.

The program calls for a weekly assembly which is planned and carried out by students. The assemblies include learning a word, quote and life principal of the week. Lincoln students conduct Friday Finales as their assembly.

By teaching the life principals to students, teachers facilitate student-to-student dialogues that help them learn social competence and problem-solving skills, the foundation reports.

In model-school classrooms, teachers give students opportunities to have personal input and choices; and provide students opportunities to work in small groups for completing projects.

"The 17 classroom practices impact learning daily because they are research-based and proven to increase student engagement and achievement," Patty said of the program. "We use schoolwide procedures, which makes for a smooth transition for all. Students know what is expected no matter where they are."

Schools in the program must reapply each year to maintain their status and are visited by unannounced Great Expectations staff for review.

Model schools are given certificates and flags to display on their campuses, but model schools do not need those items for showcasing their participation in the program. Those who spend time at the school will pick up on the practices.

Ardmore City Schools Assistant Superintendent Missy Storm describes Lincoln as a friendly and welcoming school, where students greet visitors at the classroom door with an introduction. At the April school board meeting, she announced to district officials and the community of the first-through-fifth-grade school’s achievement.

She said its takes commitment to maintain model status.

"It doesn’t just switch on and become an act," Storm said of the manners developed from the program by the students. "It is day to day at Lincoln and we are so proud."