Ashley said there were 96 schools across the country nominated for this recognition, that number was narrowed to 36 and the group choosing those to be recognized visited 12 schools, including ACMS, and then chose the top 5, each of which will receive a $5,000 grant.
Ashley said the grant may go toward purchase of approximately 25 laptop mobile units that teachers will be able to check out of the media center for use in their classrooms.
Those visiting the nominated schools included representatives of the National Association of Secondary School Principals, North Carolina Middle School Association and International Center for Leadership in Education. They toured ACMS early this month and were treated to lunch and a presentation on the school’s programming.
To say Principal Ashley is excited for his school is an understatement. “To be in the top 12 was phenomenal,” he said. “To be in the top 5 is just good stuff. The school will be featured in our Principal Leadership magazine, a special edition dedicated to the top 5 schools.” Visitors will return to the school sometime early next year to do the story for this special magazine edition that is expected to be published in the spring.
“They are looking for successful schools in America, and putting students into small learning communities as we do here at Ashe County Middle School,” Ashley said. The school arranges students into teams, the largest of which is about 80 with four teachers, and these teams work together with assigned teachers for greater success. “This is recommended for middle schools, and it’s being looked at for high schools,” Ashley added.
“In my position, people think running a middle school is a hard job,” Ashley said, “but here at Ashe County Middle School I get 9 to 1 positive comments from bus drivers, teachers, everybody. Everywhere in the community I hear positive comments about the school and how well the students do. Parents tell me how much their children enjoy coming to school. That pretty much says it all.”
As part of the “Breakthrough” recognition, Ashley will speak at a national middle school association conference in Texas in February and will take Assistant Principal Kim Ball and Media Center Coordinator Sheila Richardson with him.
Ashe County School Superintendent Donnie Johnson praised Ashley and his staff and school for this recognition. “We’re extremely proud of the middle school,” he said. “This award targets high achieving middle schools with at least 40 percent of the student population considered economically disadvantaged, and with