School & District Management

Principals Receive Award for Leadership, Academic Gains

By Alyssa Morones — June 03, 2014 2 min read
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A Newark, N.J., principal was surprised at an assembly this morning, when a national education group presented him with an award, including a $25,000 honorarium, commending his leadership and his student’s continued academic gains.

The Accelerate Institute, a Chicago-based nonprofit focused on developing high-impact urban school leaders to improve student achievement, awarded its third and final Ryan Award of the year to Michael Mann, principal of North Star Academy College Preparatory High School in Newark, N.J. Under his leadership, the high school currently outperforms 93 percent of all schools in New Jersey and the percentage of seniors who scored at the “advanced proficient” level on the state graduation exam has risen steadily over the past four years. Further, 100 percent of North Star’s seniors are accepted to college.

This is just the second year that the award has been conferred, recognizing individuals who have maintained a lasting period of student achievement growth. The other 2014 winners include Melissa Jones-Clarke, the founder and principal of the Atlanta Heights Charter School, and Eva Stevens, the principal of Heatherbrae Elementary School in Phoenix, Ariz. They received their awards last week, which were also presented in surprise assemblies.

Jones-Clarke was recognized for her students’ accelerated rate of growth. Her students, 90 percent of whom are African and 91 percent of whom received free and reduced lunch, scored 89 percent proficient in reading, 87 percent proficient in English/language arts, and 67 percent in math. Within the first two years of the school’s opening, its ranking jumped from 65 out of 67 schools in her district to 34 out of 71 schools.

Stevens was also recognized for her students’ rapid growth in proficiency, in particular for the bottom 25 percent of students. Ninety percent of Heatherbrae’s students are Hispanic, and 90 percent receive free or reduced lunch. Student achievement jumped from 60 percent proficiency to 79 percent proficiency from 2010 to 2013.

“We created the Ryan Awards to highlight the leaders of the most successful transformational schools in the United States” said Pat Ryan, Jr., the founder of the Chicago-based institute, in a press release. “We want to...enlist [these winners] as role models and help current and future principals learn from their successes.”

Winners of the award receive a $25,000 honorarium and the opportunity to teach their successful methodologies at Northwestern University’s Kellogg school of management.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.