G. W. Carver wins prestigious award

Brandie Richardson
Chairman of the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET) and founder of TAP Lowell Milken; Instructional Supervisor Marjorie Meyers, Master Teacher Dorothy Castello, Master Teacher Christie Spohn, Mentor Teacher Lindsey Taylor, Mentor Teacher Jami Fontenot, Assistant Principal Britney Allen, Mentor Teacher Kandice Oubre, Ascension Public Schools Superintendent David Alexander, Ascension Head Start Principal (former G.W. Carver Assistant Principal) Martha Babin, Principal Latatia Johnson, Director of Primary Schools Elizabeth Stafford, Mentor Teacher Angela Davis and Mentor Teacher Ashley Hawkins.

G.W. Carver Primary was the 2017 recipient of the TAP Founder's Award, earning $50,000 by the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching during a conference held in New Orleans for their use of the TAP System. TAP is a system used by educators that models leadership, daily job embedded professional development, evaluation and support, and opportunities for performance based compensation and provides effective student learning.

"This is validation for all the work that we have engaged in over the years," said Principal Latatia Johnson. "This is not only a win for our school and district, but it's also a win for the State of Louisiana because it's a testament to educators across the state that children of high poverty areas can achieve and be successful with the right structure and the right focus."

The Gonzales school was one of six finalists from Texas, Tennessee, Minnesota and Indiana to be considered for the award. NIET CEO Dr. Gary Stark said G. W. Carver was chosen because of the staff's commitment to raising educational achievement for their students.

“They have worked tremendously hard making incremental improvements every year, taking on immense planning and strategizing to move all students forward, including high-poverty, ESL and special education students," Stark said. "Their passion is so visibly noticeable in everything they do, and they never stop learning. They have visited other TAP schools across the state and have reciprocated the gesture to exchange successful strategies and take their implementation to the next level.”

Carver began implementing the TAP System in 2012 and has seen many benefits such as being able to hire more than 30 certified teachers in five years and keeping the teacher retention rate at an all time high of 91 percent.

Additionally, the school was able prove free and reduced-price lunches to 89 percent of their students and close the reading gap, as data showed the third, fourth and fifth grade students were reading below grade level. The TAP methods and the school's facility brought the School Performance Score from a C- to a B+.

“TAP is a driving force behind our continued mission to ensure every child is successful in an ever-changing world,” Johnson said in a statement. “Our teachers are empowered, our students are empowered; we’re changing lives.”

The $50,000, funded by the Lowell Milken Family Foundation, will go towards efforts to improve the quality of learning and academic achievement for G. W. Carver Primary students.

Watch G.W. Carver Primary's feature video here.