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Two Kansas schools recognized as National ESEA Distinguished Schools

Posted: Dec 12, 2018
Categories: KSDE
Author: Ann Bush

Two Kansas schools are being nationally recognized for exceptional student achievement in 2018.

Kathryn O’Loughlin McCarthy Elementary School, Hays Unified School District 489, and Roesland Elementary School, Shawnee Mission USD 512, are two of 100 schools across the nation to be recognized as National ESEA (Elementary and Secondary Education Act) Distinguished Schools, formerly known as the National Title I Distinguished Schools Program.

“This award shows the significant effort that O’Loughlin and Roesland have made to meet the needs of their students,” said Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson. “We are very proud of these Kansas schools for their outstanding academic achievements.”

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 for two consecutive years.
  • Category 2: Closing the achievement gap between student groups.
  • 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.

O’Loughlin is being recognized for exceptional student performance for two consecutive years, and Roesland is being recognized for its work to close the achievement gap between student groups.

Dr. Mike Fulton is superintendent at Shawnee Mission USD 512, and John Thissen is superintendent at Hays USD 489.

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 2019 National ESEA Conference from Jan. 30 through Feb. 2, 2019, in Kansas City, Mo., where they will be recognized along with other distinguished schools from across the country.

“I was ecstatic and very proud of our students, staff and community,” said Jennifer Woolever, principal of Roesland Elementary School. “It was uplifting to know that we were recognized for making a difference. It takes everybody. I believe it is the hard work, dedication and perseverance we emphasize each school day.”

Roesland serves 360 students in grades pre-K through sixth.

“I feel very honored to have such a fantastic team that will do whatever it takes to help a child be successful,” said Woolever, who is in her third year as principal at Roesland.

Vicki Gile, principal of O’Loughlin Elementary in Hays, said she was “surprised and extremely excited” about the announcement. O’Loughlin also was named a Distinguished School in 2013, according to the ESEA Network website.

Hays USD 489 recently adopted a new curriculum with reading and writing workshops, Gile said. Teachers do short lessons and then students can read and write independently. This allows students to progress at their own speed, Gile said.

The school also does “looping” with teachers and students. This means a student’s kindergarten teacher will progress with the student to first grade, and a student’s second-grade teacher will follow the student to third grade and so forth.

“That has been a really good fit for us in the past two or three years,” said Gile, who is in her third year as principal at the school. “The district values reading, and this school has a long tradition of reading with intent and purpose. We do a lot of reading. Parents are really good about making sure students read at home, too”

O’Loughlin serves 383 students in grades kindergarten through fifth.

“We are excited to get this honor,” Gile said. “I’m extremely proud of staff. They put in a lot of time to make sure everyone is on track. They build relationships with the kids and the parents. They are very, very dedicated.”


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