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Simonton Elementary honored for closing achievement gap

Simonton Elementary School recently received the "High Flying School Award" - presented to schools in high-poverty communities that are also producing high-achieving students - for its work in closing the achievement gap, Gwinnett County Public Schools officials announced.

Simonton was among four schools presented with the national honor at the "National Youth-At-Risk Conference" in Savannah earlier this month. While at the conference, a team from Simonton Elementary, including principal Dot Schoeller, participated in a panel discussion sharing the school's success story for making sure all children are learning to their full potential.

The award honors schools based on the following categories:

High academic achievement. The school ranks in its state at the 67th percentile or higher in at least one academic subject in at least one grade level.

High poverty. The school's student population is comprised of at least 50 percent of students living at or below poverty level, as measured by students receiving lunch for free or for a reduced price.

High minority population. The school's student population is comprised of 50 percent or more minority students, primarily black and Hispanic students.

Community collaboration. The school demonstrates high levels of collaboration with community and/or universities in addressing youth-at-risk issues within the school and community.

Citizenship development. The school provides extracurricular opportunities for students to develop citizenship skills.

Democratic education. School curriculum includes objectives and activities related to the growth of students as individuals who are successful members of a democratic society.

As part of the recognition, the school received a check for $1,500, which will be used to continue the initiatives that are helping Simonton Elementary produce successful students.

Heather Darenberg writes about education. Good News From Schools appears in the Sunday edition of the Gwinnett Daily Post.