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Dana School again receives national honor

Dana student Aubrie Pressley talks about her school during a demonstration last spring. Dana student Aubrie Pressley talks about her school during a demonstration last spring.

Dana Elementary School has won national recognition again.

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, an organization advocating 21st century readiness for every student, is highlighting Dana Elementary School in an online initiative that showcases schools that have adopted the new teaching, assessment and curriculum practices.


"Patterns of Innovation: The 21st Century Learning Exemplar Program" showcases schools, educators, and students from around the country that have embraced the 21st Century Skills approach, called P-21, to improve outcomes for all children.
Dana and 24 other models were selected after a rigorous examination to find schools that show what 21st Century Skills practice looks like in action. Chosen from across the country by P21 members and staff for educational excellence and successful 21st century learning implementation, the schools represent the first installment of P21’s ongoing project to identify, document and celebrate exemplary 21st century learning across the country.

Dana has won several state and national awards for its teaching success. It was selected as one of six schools to represent North Carolina as a National Title I Distinguished School for Sustained Student Achievement and was one of six schools across the country to win a National School Change Award. Its principal, Kelly Schofield, was the 2012-13 principal of the year in Henderson County.

The Patterns of Innovation website featured an interview with Schofield, second- and third-grade teacher Annie Jones and fifth-grader Thomas Walters.

The school’s enrollment is 44 percent Hispanic, a third of the students have a limited proficiency in English and 80 percent qualify for free or reduced price lunch (a Title I school).

“Having those demographics has never stopped us from wanting to have high expectations for our students and really raising that bar,” Schofield said. “We have always felt that if any students in the state can do it then so can ours. Our goal has always been to find the framework, find the curriculum, find the instructional strategies that work for our population of students.”

Teachers “take a very interdisciplinary approach to instruction,” Jones said, and children work in teams “so the kids are working together in problem-solving activities on a daily basis.”

Not all households have a computer but most parents own a smart phone, Schofield said. Teachers tell parents about free smart phone aps they can use to help their children learn.

“We always try to think of what’s in our circle of influence," she said. "We try to think of what can we do instead of what we can’t do.”