While we all take a break from school this month, we pause to honor one special place in our community.
Schools are the bedrock of communities across the United States. They weave the social tapestry together through education, rising home values, and respect for each other while also preparing young people for future success as citizens, coworkers, and community volunteers. Alpharetta is home to many highly rated K-5 schools where the foundations of education begin. One of the strongest in the area is Lake Windward Elementary (LWE), which U.S. News and World Report named one of the “Best Elementary Schools” in Fulton County and in the state of Georgia. In 2018, the U.S. Department of Education named LWE a Blue Ribbon School, and the Georgia Department of Education awarded the school a platinum award for the Highest Performing School and a silver award for the Greatest Gains in the State.
Teachers at LWE have built enduring relationships with students and parents even through the incredible stress of the past two years. Covid-19 forced teachers and students to sever their relationships in the classroom and switch to remote learning when the nation shut down in March of 2020. When students came back into the classroom, teachers and students had to rebuild their relationships through obstacles of social distancing, masks, and teaching classes simultaneously face-to-face and online. Despite these obstacles, teachers at LWE continued to educate their pupils with astonishing quality, as evidenced by recent data. LWE teachers administered the Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) assessment in October of 2021 to assess second and fourth graders in math and reading. The MAP test is a national assessment designed to measure student growth over a period of time. In math, 52% of LWE second graders and 54% of fourth graders scored in the highest rating category—which is equal to or higher than the 80th percentile across the nation. In reading, 49% of second graders and 55% of fourth grade students scored in the highest category. These scores are an astounding accomplishment that speak to the investment in technology and to the passion, commitment, and foresight that LWE teachers have for their students. Terri Cox, a third-grade teacher, noted, “LWE had already been using many different online platforms before the pandemic. So when the pandemic hit, we continued learning at the same pace as we did in the classroom.”
This standard of quality continues. LWE students took the iReady assessment this winter and it confirms what the MAP assessment suggested. Overall school-wide iReady data reflects 76% scored above grade level or on grade level in math, and 78% of students scored above grade level or on grade level in reading, both of which are notable achievements. Fifth grade teacher, Daniel Hodge says, “Success of this school is primarily a product of our community.” He notes that he is “grateful that we were able to work together to assure that our students continued to achieve,” and that, “our success is a direct effect of the involvement and support that we had from our parents.”