“I can’t wait to spend $50,000 on these kids!” enthused Denny International Middle School principal Jeff Clark as he accepted the Thomas B. Foster Award for Excellence from the Alliance for Education, which brings with it a $50,000 grant for the winner and his school. A surprise ceremony was held a short time ago at Denny, with not only Clark, staff, and his 8th-grade students on hand, but also his wife and sons – future Denny Dolphins, as the principal proudly referred to his little boys – and a gallery of dignitaries, including two School Board members and newly appointed interim Seattle Public Schools superintendent Dr. Susan Enfield. Clark said it’s not just his award:
The Foster Award is given to an outstanding middle- or high-school principal each year. Among the dignitaries there to congratulate Clark was the man who received it two years ago, Phil Brockman, a former West Seattle High School principal who at the time was leading Ballard HS.
ADDED 4:09 PM: The official news release about the award:
The Alliance for Education and Seattle Public Schools today announced that Denny International Middle School Principal Jeff Clark is the recipient of the Thomas B. Foster Award for Excellence for his outstanding leadership.
Denny International Middle School students and families joined representatives of the Alliance for Education and Seattle Public Schools to give Principal Clark the award at Denny this afternoon. Since the year 2000, Clark is the ninth recipient to receive the award, which the Alliance gives to an exceptional secondary school principal. The award includes a $50,000 cash grant to the school.
Jeff Clark has led Denny International Middle School in the development of an international school curriculum, worked with teachers on Readers/Writers Workshop implementation, and has worked in collaboration with the feeder elementary schools and Chief Sealth International High School to create a seamless K-12 pathway to college.
At Denny International Middle School, students showed excellent progress with significant growth in all subject areas – scores increased by 14.6 points in science, 14.4 points in math, by 6.3 points in writing, and 4.1 points in reading. The gains can be attributed to a number of factors:
* Structured, frequent collaboration among the teaching staff to review data, analyze student work, and work on joint lesson planning
* Professional development for teachers, including the studio math program which allows teachers to observe and learn from each other
* Partnerships with 15 community-based organizations which support Denny International Middle School students and families
* Home visits to families in order to promote family involvement in education
Tom Foster, founder of the law firm Foster Pepper and a Seattle civic leader, was deeply committed to helping the Seattle community and was passionate about education issues. When he passed away in 1999 at the age of 84, community members established a fund with the Alliance in his honor to recognize and support secondary school principals.
To be eligible for the Thomas B. Foster award, candidates must serve a minimum of one entire school year in their buildings and be under contract for the subsequent year. The selection criterion considers:
* Principals’ commitment and effectiveness in improving student achievement (as measured by District performance measures)
* Leadership and teambuilding, as reflected in staff and student climate surveys
* Innovation in educational and administrative techniques
* Leadership participation in school-wide and district-wide initiatives
* Prudent creative use of resources
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