School earns national ‘distinguished’ award

Photos by Brittney Lohmiller/The Herald
Chrisney Elementary resource teacher Brittany Forler, left, reads with third-graders Megan Galyan, top left, Avery Peters, Claire Sisley and Sophie Guth in the school's cafeteria on Monday. Chrisney received a National ESEA Distinguished School award this year. 


CHRISNEY — Chrisney Elementary School won one of up to 100 Title I Distinguished Schools Awards given across the country for the 2017-18 school year.

The awards are part of National Title I Distinguished Schools program that the National Title I Association started in 1996. Awards are given in three categories: exceptional student performance, closing the gap between children in poverty and their more affluent peers, and excellence in serving special populations of students.

This year, two Title I Distinguished Schools Awards were awarded in Indiana, one for exceptional student performance and one for closing the gap between children with different socioeconomic statuses. Chrisney was recognized for exceptional student performance.

“For me, it’s nice for the students and teachers to be recognized for the hard work they put in day in and day out,” said Principal Lori Hermann, who is in her first year leading the school.

The Title I designation for schools comes from former President Lyndon Johnson’s Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Under the legislation, which has been amended several times through the decades, schools with high poverty rates are identified as Title I and allocated resources to compensate for the considerable educational deprivations associated with child poverty. The poverty rate is determined by the number of students who receive free or reduced-price lunch.

Chrisney Elementary third grade teacher Lance Rahman, left, helps second-grader Ashtyn Rhoton with her reading at the school on Monday.

At Chrisney, 43 percent of students receive aid for lunch, according to data from the Indiana Department of Education.

The ESEA put special emphasis on reading, writing and math, and Hermann believes Chrisney’s daily emphasis on reading played a large role in earning the school the distinction. For an hour each day, every teacher at Chrisney is a reading teacher, Hermann said. During that hour, students are broken into groups by reading proficiency and given specialized instruction to meet their individual needs.

To earn the Distinguished Schools distinction, schools had to be nominated, then complete a telephone interview with an IDOE official. In the final stage, an IDOE official visited campus for an on-site interview and tour. Hermann said the official paid special attention to the reading hour during the on-site visit, and the IDOE mentioned the reading program in its memo about the award winners.

The IDOE’s memo also mentioned Chrisney’s consistent A ranking on the state’s school accountability system and videotaped math lessons for parents. Those lessons allow parents to see how today’s students are learning math so parents can better assist with homework.

The memo also pointed out the collaboration among Chrisney staff to ensure that the needs of every student are met. Hermann said she also noticed the collaboration among staff when she took over as principal.

“How they say it takes a village, that’s true here,” Hermann said. “It’s cool to see everyone come together for our students.”

Chrisney Elementary first-grader Annabelle Maddox plays tag with friends during recess at the school on Monday.

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