Area schools named ‘Torchbearers’ in state

Published 9:02pm Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Sometimes the value of a solid education can fall by the wayside in tough economic times. ‘Other issues may begin to take priority, leaving quality schools at the bottom of the list. Thankfully, Selma and Dallas County schools have not allowed that to happen.

Four Selma City Schools and one Dallas County School made the list of Alabama’s top 20 high-performing public schools in high-poverty areas, thus giving them the name “torchbearer.” To make this list, schools must overcome the odds in the face of an economically-depressed area and create a healthy, nurturing educational atmosphere that allows children to succeed.

City schools that made the list include Cedar Park Elementary, Sophia P. Kingston Elementary, Edgewood Elementary and Knox Elementary. Bruce K. Craig Elementary also made the list as a torchbearer school in Dallas County.

To be eligible for a monetary reward, the Torchbearer School must make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) for two consecutive years and meet additional criteria.

We commend all these schools and their educators for placing a high standard on their students’ education and the goals they must meet throughout the year.

In uncertain economic times, education is the one investment we can count on as a community that will always bring positive yields. Our youth and our children, are key components to giving our community a strong foundation. By giving our youngest learners a safe place to learn and grow, our educators are creating a brighter future for not only that student, but the community as a whole.

Tommy Bice, State Superintendent of Education said, “Since 2004, the Torchbearer School Program has recognized public schools in Alabama that show growth and success in the face of significant challenges. Torchbearer schools do not allow those challenges to turn into excuses. Torchbearer schools exhibit exemplary leadership, helping all students towards success.”

We could not agree more with Bice’s words. Just because our public schools face economic stressors that other schools may not, that does not give them an excuse to provide our children with a less than excellent education. Our teachers and school officials have worked more than hard to make sure school our programs are up to par, and we commend them for their efforts.

We also encourage other schools to take note of these school systems and strive to become a Torchbearer. Ideally, we would like to see all city and county schools earn this prestigious title, making Selma an ideal place to raise a family. In our eyes, this goal is achievable.

Efforts to make our public schools better do not have to be costly either. They can start small with providing more teacher-parent meetings, so teachers and parents are on the same page when it comes to their child’s progress and expectations.

We could also take small steps to making more schools a Torchbearer by making sure every teacher is well equipped with necessary materials needed to teach a classroom with success. If any teacher is lacking in classroom equipment, we could address this issue head-on by having a community fundraiser to raise funds for that teacher.

The opportunities are endless. All we need is a community that places high expectations on education, which the Torchbearer Program has proved we already have.

State Superintendent of Education Joe Morton said, “We began the Torchbearer School Program in 2004 to recognize those public schools in Alabama that demonstrate the principle that all children can learn, despite whatever difficulties they may face. Torchbearer Schools light the way as places of learning that exhibit exemplary leadership and overcome adversity for all students to achieve.”

Like Morton said, we congratulate the schools that made this prestigious list for lighting the way into a better and brighter future.

As a city and county, we cannot wait for the recession to end and economic times to change. Our children’s’ education is not something we can put in to jeopardy, and we commend these schools for taking that outlook and making sure their students get the best education possible. Without these schools, some students’ futures may not be as bright. .

The Torchbearer School Award Ceremony will take place on Feb. 19 at the Capitol City Club in Montgomery. A reception will be held from 5 p.m. till 5:45 p.m. with awards given from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. For more information on the Torchbearer School Program, contact Dr. Angela Angum at 353-9251.

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