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Crews Middle finalist for excellence award

LAWRENCEVILLE - Alton C. Crews Middle School was one of 48 schools nationwide to be named as a finalist for the Intel and Scholastic Schools of Distinction Awards.

The awards recognized schools this week that implemented innovative programs that can also be used effectively in other schools. Crews was selected as one of top six schools in the category of professional development, which includes training for teachers to excel in the classroom.

Faculty members at Crews have the opportunity every Tuesday to attend programs that focus on best practices instructional strategies, according to Principal Jonathan Patterson. There, they learn how to improve their process of previewing material, answering essential questions, summarizing it for students and using technology to teach.

"We described our professional development program, which we believe is a model for other school systems that goes above and beyond the expectations for schools," Patterson said. "Professional development is a top priority for Crews Middle School."

There will be 16 Schools of Distinction selected this fall out of the 48 finalists. Categories included leadership excellence, literary achievement, collaboration and teamwork and science achievement.

Crews was one of only three schools in Georgia selected as a finalist. Now it will compete in the professional development category against two high schools for a $10,000 grant. One elementary school and one secondary school will also be selected to receive an additional $15,000 grant. Winners will be announced at a gala held Oct. 5 in Washington, DC.

"Through dedication and hard work, these schools have implemented great ideas for instituting student centered learning, incorporating hands-on experiences and working with their communities," said Brenda Musilli, the director of education for Intel.

The 48 finalists were chosen from public and private schools cross the country that participated in an extensive application and judging process. They were selected on the basis of addressing technology, involvement of parents and the community and consistently achieving high academic standards.

If Crews wins any educational grants from the competition, Patterson said the money would go toward buying and updating computers in the classroom. He said it is a priority for Crews to teach its students using innovation and technology.

"We're keeping our fingers crossed to see if we get that. It's a nice honor for our community and our school. It's a wonderful achievement, and it recognizes all of our work that our faculty and our staff has done over the years at Crews Middle School," Patterson said.