Nottoway, Carrsville named Title I Distinguished Schools

Published 1:58 pm Saturday, January 9, 2016

Fourth-graders at Carrsville Elementary School watch videos related to a teaching lesson in science. The school was one of two in Western Tidewater named as a Title I Distinguished School; Nottoway Elementary is the second. -- STEPHEN H. COWLES | The Tidewater news

Fourth-graders at Carrsville Elementary School watch videos related to a teaching lesson in science. The school was one of two in Western Tidewater named as a Title I Distinguished School; Nottoway Elementary is the second. — STEPHEN H. COWLES | The Tidewater news

Nottoway Elementary School in Southampton County and Carrsville Elementary School in Isle of Wight County have been named Title I Distinguished Schools; they’re two of 46 in Virginia. The announcement was made earlier this week by the state board of education.

Naturally, all parties concerned are thrilled by the recognition.

Nottoway Elementary

Nottoway Principal Chris Tsitsera said he’s “ecstatic … basically overjoyed! We’ve been working hard.” Angela Deskins is the reading specialist for K-5 at the school, but he added that the honor is “a team effort. The teachers and parents get this commendation. This just proves what we’re doing is right.”

Lorraine Greene, who is the Title I coordinator for Southampton County Public Schools, said that although this is a first for Nottoway, she wasn’t surprised that the school was tapped this year.

“They truly, truly love their students and have a genuine deep care of students,” she said. “It’s not just something they’re doing today, but they’re affecting the future and potential lifelong learning, earning and happiness [of the children].”

As the Virginia Department of Education explained in its announcement, “Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act — which Congress reauthorized last month through passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 — authorizes federal funding for programs to raise the achievement of students identified as being at risk of academic failure.

“The federal education law also encourages states to recognize schools and school divisions that exceed annual performance objectives in reading and mathematics.”

Greene explained further.

“The Title I program focuses on increasing the reading abilities of every child in an environment that capitalizes on the power that positive emotions play in learning. All teachers see themselves as reading teachers, integrating reading across the curriculum into every class. This benefits the students because in each class, students are presented the content in a format that they can understand and in which they experience success … and success provides the brain power for further success.

“Nothing succeeds like success.”

She added, “Instruction is structured on individual and specific skills-building that aligns with the essential knowledge, skills and processes from the Virginia SOL Framework. Learning is tiered for each student, keeping them right on the edge of ‘what they know and what they are ready to learn next.’ Student learning is accelerated while actively engaged in a literature-rich environment with higher level questioning techniques that cause students to develop an intellectual curiosity as well as creative and critical thinking skills.”

“We are so very proud of this accomplishment,” said Superintendent Dr. Alvera Parrish.”We’re really excited and just really motivated even more about the work that ‘s being done to impact student achievement. Of course for them to receive this award is a wonderful accomplishment. It’s really a big deal.”

The recognition is based on Standard of Learning assessments from 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 school years. Further, Parrish said, the school has to have full accreditation for a minimum of two consecutive years — in this case — the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 school years — and meeting or exceeding federal accountability benchmarks.

“It is a real outstanding accomplishment for Nottoway,” she said, adding that the school principal and staff would be recognized with a certificate at the board meeting on Monday, Jan. 11.

Carrsville Elementary

“I’m very proud of the work that teachers put in every day to make sure that our students can meet their potential,” said Principal Clint Walters.

This is not the first time the school has been noted as a Distinguished Title I School; in fact, it’s happened seven times in the last eight years, and in 2013 Carrsville was honored as a National Blue Ribbon School.

“The team at Carrsville Elementary is dedicated to the success of every child, every day,” said Superintendent Jim Thornton. “Their personalized approach to learning yields tremendous results and I’m glad the state is once again recognizing their accomplishments.”

Pam Hatfield, Title I coordinator for Isle of Wight County Schools, said that Carrsville has “continuously maintained high academic achievement. The teachers here are phenomenal.”

She explained that federal money is received, which goes largely to the instructors’ salaries, and also pays for professional development or training as well as needed instructional materials. This year the IWCS got $631,000; last year it was approximately $550,000, but the amount can fluctuate.

Family involvement in their children’s education is very important; the school plans a Family Night for Tuesday, Feb. 16, at 7 p.m.; the same night as the PTA meeting.

Margie McClenny, who is the Title I teacher, said she was “tickled to death” when the principal told her the news about the honor. She recalls when the program was known as Chapter 1.

Although reading and math are the focus,”it’s really about the whole child,” McClenny said.