G.W. Carver receives recognition as TAP Founder’s Award finalist

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

The National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET) today announced that G.W. Carver Primary School in Gonzales is among six schools from across the country chosen as a finalist for the TAP Founder’s Award, NIET’s highest honor.

The TAP system aligns teacher leadership, daily job-embedded professional development, educator evaluation and support, and opportunities for performance-based compensation. Introduced in 1999, the TAP System supports schools, districts, universities and states to advance educator effectiveness and student learning.

The TAP Founder’s Award comes with a $50,000 prize to be used toward efforts to improve instruction and academic achievement. The Award finalists will be recognized on Friday, March 24 in New Orleans, Louisiana, before 1,000 educators, policymakers, researchers and other influential leaders. The Award winner will be announced on Saturday, March 25.

Each finalist will receive a plaque and $10,000. Carver joins Alice M. Harte Charter School in New Orleans, Louisiana; Barrera Veterans Elementary School in Somerset Independent School District, Texas; Dodson Branch School in Jackson County Schools, Tennessee; Hmong College Preparatory Academy in St. Paul, Minnesota; and West Goshen Elementary School in Goshen Community Schools, Indiana.

Carver implemented the TAP system in 2012. Carver serves an 88 percent economically disadvantaged student population. Every teacher is a product of TAP’s career ladder continuum; master teachers are former mentor teachers and mentor teachers are former classroom teachers.

According to Principal Latatia Johnson, growing and promoting talent from within has had a “huge positive cultural effect” on teacher retention. In 2015-16, the school had a 91 percent retention rate and staff anticipates that the rate will increase.

With a strong and stable team in place, Johnson and her staff were ready to tackle educational challenges. The school TAP leadership team embraced the “we go first” philosophy: members guide the weekly professional development meetings, model strategies and field-test them with groups of students. They collaborate with faculty on assessing what works, what doesn’t and how to improve. Then the faculty as a whole has the credibility of the leadership team to pursue strategies and take risks. The students, in turn, want to be a part of the action.

“I commend Principal Johnson and the entire staff at Carver for their dedication to strengthening teaching to achieve the ultimate goal of student learning,” Lowell Milken, NIET chairman and TAP founder, said. “Faculty and students have every reason to be proud of their achievements, and their continued persistence to reach even greater heights.”

For more information about the 17th TAP Conference and the 2017 TAP Founder’s Award announcement on March 25, visit http://www.niet.org.

Contributed Report