Pecan Grove Primary receives $50,000 TAP Founder’s Award

Accompanied by district officials, Pecan Grove faculty take to the stage to accept the TAP Founder's Award. From left: NIET President and CEO Dr. Gary Stark, NIET Chairman and TAP Founder Lowell Milken, Pecan Grove Principal Marjorie Meyers, Pecan Grove Instructional Leadership Partner Elizabeth Stafford, Pecan Grove TAP Master Teacher Allison Brown (who now works at Central Primary), Pecan Grove Assistant Principal Pamela Hughes, Pecan Grove TAP Master Teacher Tracie Rikhoff, Ascension Parish Schools Executive Master Teacher Laura Roussel, Pecan Grove Instructional Leadership Partner Shelia Savoy (who now works at Donaldsonville Elementary), Pecan Grove TAP Mentor Teacher Christy Anthony, Pecan Grove TAP Career Teacher Whitney Byrne, Pecan Grove TAP Career Teacher Emily Marceaux, Pecan Grove TAP Career Teacher Kayla Lemoine, Pecan Grove TAP Career Teacher Jennifer Rudy, Ascension Parish Schools Superintendent Dr. Patrice Pujol, and Milken Family Foundation Senior Vice President of Communications Bonnie Somers.

Pecan Grove Primary School Principal Marjorie Meyers went into complete shock last week as Lowell Milken, founder of TAP: The System for Teacher and Student Advancement, surprised faculty of Pecan Grove Primary School with the prestigious TAP Founder’s Award. The award, which includes a $50,000 prize, was presented at the 15th National TAP Conference in Los Angeles, California, before more than 1,200 educators, policymakers, researchers and influential leaders in education and business.

Funded by the Lowell Milken Family Foundation, the TAP Founder’s Award is given annually to one school for exceptional efforts to implement and represent the principles of TAP: The System for Teacher and Student Advancement.

“The faculty of Pecan Grove Primary are relentless in their pursuit of providing each student with the high-quality education necessary to succeed in an ever-changing world,” Milken said. “I commend Principal Meyers and her team for making educator effectiveness the centerpiece of achieving extraordinary growth at Pecan Grove, setting high expectations, and building strong leadership capacity so that this growth can continue.”

The TAP System is America’s leading comprehensive educator effectiveness model that aligns teacher leadership, daily job-embedded professional development, meaningful evaluation and support, and opportunities for competitive, performance-based compensation. TAP has been on the ground for more than a decade supporting schools, districts and the states in their missions to strengthen instruction and student achievement.  

Principal Marjorie Meyers, who has served as Pecan Grove’s principal since its opening in 2008, accepted the award on the school’s behalf.    

Since implementing the TAP System in the 2011-12 school year, Pecan Grove Primary has focused on advancing educator effectiveness by working as a team to deliver top-notch instruction in every classroom. Teacher leaders guide weekly professional development and provide individual coaching in classrooms. This ongoing support is based on student data and delivers strategies proven effective with students. Evaluations of teacher practice are followed by feedback and support for improvement; and a performance-based compensation system rewards educators for increased skills and student learning growth as well as taking on leadership roles.

“Because of TAP, I have been able to create a pipeline of leaders that can support other teachers and students on campus,” Meyers said.

This intense support, coupled by detailed analysis of student work and tracking progress, has helped Meyers build a culture of collaboration in which all students are accountable for meeting the goals of a rigorous curriculum.

“We grew more in our first year of TAP implementation than we had over the prior three years without TAP,” she said.

The TAP System started Pecan Grove on a trajectory of continued improvement. The campus earned a value-added growth score of 5 on a scale of 1-5 during its first year of the TAP System. This means that Pecan Grove students achieved significantly more than a year’s worth of academic growth when compared to students in similar schools in Louisiana.

This progress translated to a jump in the school’s state letter grade from a D to a B in four years. Pecan Grove was named a Louisiana Top Gains School in 2012 and has continued to sustain solid growth.

During the 2014-15 school year, Meyers was recognized as State Elementary School Principal of the Year.

The TAP Founder’s Award recipients are selected without their knowledge by the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching, which manages and supports the TAP System. The honor is based on distinction in the following areas: proficient implementation of TAP’s four elements, student academic growth according to state or federal measures, and notable recognition as a center and resource of best practices.

The TAP Founder’s Award yields benefits that will strengthen the individual school and support its teachers. This is done by means of prominent public recognition and by opportunities to substantively interact on issues of educator effectiveness and student learning with leaders from government, business and academia.