The staffs of two Columbia County elementary schools will be rewarded for going above and beyond the call of duty.
Martinez and Riverside elementary schools were among 95 schools in the state to receive Pay for Performance grants.
Martinez was awarded $74,000, and Riverside was awarded $100,000.
''Pay for Performance is an excellent incentive program because it inspires a local school to set high goals and then challenges the teachers and staff to work hard together over the next year to obtain those goals,'' state School Superintendent Linda Schrenko said. ''The 95 schools that received the Pay for Performance awards for the 2000-01 school year went the extra mile to participate in this program. These schools are not afraid to set higher standards for themselves, and they will work hard to reach their goals of excellence.''
Martinez Elementary Principal Lauren Williams said this is the second year the school has won the grant, which will be divided among teachers, paraprofessionals and other staff members.
Last year's grant was tied to several programs designed to improve academic achievement. For example, teachers developed ''no excuse words,'' words that every pupil should be able to spell.
''The goal was to have 90 percent of students at each grade level show 100 percent mastery of these words,'' Williams said.
Another goal was to improve the relationship between the school and parents. The school developed a Web site to help keep parents informed and provided links to related sites. The school also had a night on which parents could come to the school and observe the work that was being done in the computer labs. And the school held a book swap during the spring art show.
Teachers teaching different subjects worked at ways they could collaborate on lessons and incorporate the media center in their plans. And teachers formed a reading club so that they could read and then meet to discuss books on professional development. The school, which has a program for interns from Augusta State University, also beefed up its professional-development library, Williams said.
The grant money this year will be used to improve standardized test scores, she said.
Riverside Elementary Principal Jeanie Hill said this is the first time her school has won the grant, which also will be divided among employees. Its objectives are to improve test scores and to work with its feeder school - Riverside Middle School - to help smooth the transition for students.
Intensive staff development training is also planned on bullying and the school will implement a ''no bullying policy,'' Hill said.
Teaching pupils how to think and problem solve will also be a focus, she said. It's part of a countywide initiative called Understanding by Design.
''We think students do better when they are able to look at their own work and see their error and know how to correct them. We have had student-led conferences with parents, where they can show their parents their work and say this is good because, or this piece wasn't so good because ...''
Statewide, a total of $10,158,000 was awarded through this program. Two schools in Richmond County also received grants. Butler High School received $170,000, and McBean Elementary School got $66,000. The amount of the grant is based on $2,000 per teacher.
The Pay for Performance Program is a voluntary school-improvement program designed to promote school achievement and faculty collaboration. Participating schools must undergo a series of rigorous examinations by a Pay for Performance panel.
To attain an award, a school must identify and meet its performance objectives. Performance objectives must cover academic achievement, client involvement, educational programming and resource development.
On June 15, a final report that documents the status of each performance objective in the approved application must be submitted. To be eligible for a Pay for Performance award, at least 80 percent of the performance objectives specified in the approved application must be achieved.
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