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Two Kansas schools recognized as National ESEA Distinguished Schools

Two Kansas schools are being nationally recognized for exceptional student achievement in 2019.

Ruth Clark Elementary School, Haysville Unified School District 261, and New Stanley Elementary School, Kansas City USD 500, are both National ESEA (Elementary and Secondary Education Act) Distinguished Schools, formerly known as the National Title I Distinguished Schools Program.

The National ESEA Distinguished Schools Program, which is a project of the National Association of ESEA State Program Administrators (NAESPA), has been publicly recognizing qualifying schools for their positive educational advances since 1996. The program showcases the success of hundreds of schools in one of three categories:

  • Category 1: Exceptional student performance and academic growth for two or more consecutive years.
  • Category 2: Closing the achievement gap between student groups for two or more consecutive years.
  • Category 3: Excellence in serving special populations of students.


NAESPA implemented the National ESEA Distinguished Schools Program to highlight selected schools that have successfully used their ESEA federal funds to improve the education for all students. More information about the program is available on the ESEA Network website, www.ESEAnetwork.org.

Ruth Clark Elementary is being recognized in Category 1 (exceptional student performance), and New Stanley Elementary is being recognized in Category 2 (closing the achievement gap).

The Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) used data from the past three years of the Kansas State Assessments to determine the two schools from Kansas to be recognized.

KSDE will provide a small stipend to each school so staff members can attend the 2020 National ESEA Conference from Feb. 4-7, 2020, in Atlanta, Georgia, where they will be recognized along with other distinguished schools from across the country.

Carla Wulf is principal of Ruth Clark Elementary School, and Dr. John Burke is superintendent of Haysville USD 261.

Ruth Clark Elementary serves 368 prekindergarten through fifth-grade students.

“I believe our school stands out because of our team mindset, our strong focus on the positive and our priority to do whatever it takes to do what is best for our students,” Wulf said. “Our district administration is very forward thinking and supportive. We appreciate the opportunity to represent Haysville and the state of Kansas in this capacity and recognize the honor it is to do so. Educating our students is a responsibility we take very seriously. Kansas is filled with highly effective teachers and staff. It is very humbling to represent them all.”

Haysville USD 261 has implemented Capturing Kids’ Hearts and positive behavioral interventions districtwide, according to Wulf. Both of these programs blend well together to “help us build the necessary relationships of trust and respect,” she said.

“It provides a foundation of common language and expectations that are positive and affirming, allowing the ability to take risks, make mistakes, learn from them and try again,” Wulf said.

Shonielle Roberson is the principal at New Stanley Elementary, and Dr. Charles Foust is superintendent of Kansas City USD 500.

The school serves 322 students in kindergarten through fifth grade. The Kansas City school district has is an “amazing and diverse district,” Foust said.

“We are made up of over 20,000 students with families that speak over 70 different languages,” he said. “Walking through the halls of our schools, you will hear, “Excellence is required,” and we believe just that.”

New Stanley Elementary is a close-knit community, Roberson said.

 “This doesn’t just mean the staff and students that spend every day at the school,” she said. “This includes the parents, grandparents or even a next-door neighbor. The community involvement has made such an astonishing impact on this school.”

The district has launched a new “Are You on Track” initiative, Foust said. The question – are you on track – has been posed to the entire district, parents and community members.

“Are you on track to be a better you? To work harder? To show up? To put our students first,” Foust asked. “Being on track is making sure our students have a successful future, whether that’s passing state assessments, improving attendance rates, going to college or being prepared for that first job. The school district’s goal is to be one of the top 10 school districts. Awards like this prove that we are moving in the right direction, but we know there still is a lot of work to be done. We will use awards like this to motivate more of our students, teachers and schools to continue to improve. Because remember, excellence is required.”

Posted: Dec 11, 2019,
Categories: KSDE,
Comments: 0,
Author: Ann Bush

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