Press release from Glynn County Schools:
Risley Middle School has once again been recognized as a Georgia Lighthouse School to Watch and a National Designated School to Watch by the Georgia Middle School Association. As one of 16 Lighthouse schools, Risley Middle was chosen for exemplifying the four principles of the state-level program, which is academic excellence, developmental responsiveness, social equity, and organizational structures and processes. Through this designation, the school will serve as a mentor and model for other schools in the state, while maintaining its commitment to academic excellence and student achievement.
“Our students, teachers and staff work extremely hard every day and it is refreshing to get the positive feedback that they so rightfully deserve. It is truly an honor to be a part of this school and a privilege to watch our students and educators grow in knowledge and self-development,” said Lori Joiner, principal of Risley Middle School.
The school was designated as a Lighthouse school during the 2015-16 school year.
“We started the Schools to Watch process by conducting an intense self-study. The State Schools to Watch conducted a two-day visit in the fall of 2015, and we were awarded the Georgia Lighthouse School to Watch and National Schools to Watch designation in January 2016,” Joiner said.
To remain in the program, Risley Middle must apply for re-designation every three years. Additionally, the school is required to make improvements through comprehensive evaluations of the school in order to maintain the School to Watch status, Joiner said. Through its school improvement plan and numerous initiatives aimed at fostering innovative educational practices, Risley Middle was re-designated as a Georgia Lighthouse School to Watch and National School to Watch on Monday, Sept. 17.
“There are only 16 schools in Georgia that maintain this STW rigorous process. The visiting team from the state told me in the exit interview that ‘the culture of support for students and staff is clearly evident. Teachers will not let students fail and they will not let each other fail,’” Joiner said. “This kind of recognition goes beyond material rewards; it acknowledges the time and dedication our faculty take to be exceptional teachers, mentors and leaders,” she continued.
The school will receive an official report in December and it will include a number of suggestions and recommendations for continued growth.
Georgia Lighthouse Schools to Watch is a program of the prestigious National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform. Georgia is one of 18 states that has qualified to be part of this program, which annually identifies schools across the country that are committed to a journey of excellence. Through its Schools to Watch program, the National Forum has developed criteria for identifying high-performing middle-grades schools, created tools to help schools use the criteria, expanded the program to 18 states, and selected and honored 465 successful schools across the country during the Annual STW Conference.
This year, 16 schools have been named to the Georgia Lighthouse Schools to Watch list. Once identified as a School to Watch, each site must apply for re-designation every three years in order to remain in the program.