Big award for Denny Int’l Middle School and principal Jeff Clark

March 11, 2011 at 1:46 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 11 Comments

“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

11 Comments

  1. Congratulations to Mr. Clark. He is most certainly an outstanding principal and Denny is a terrific school. Go Dolphins!

    Comment by stb — 3:12 pm March 11, 2011 #

  2. great news for Denny. Good job Mr. Clark!

    Comment by laura bermes — 5:00 pm March 11, 2011 #

  3. Congratulations Mr. Clark! A wonderful, fair, kind, intelligent person who has served my kids, as well and many others, very well.
    I appreciate all of our Denny staff! We are all lucky to have Mr.Clark leading the way for Denny’s future.

    Comment by Donna Burns — 6:27 pm March 11, 2011 #

  4. Congratulations to Denny. However, if I remember correctly there is a sizable chunk of money that goes directly to the principal with this award. It would be interesting to know if that money will be divided among the staff who are truly the driving force of any school.
    Do principals that already make six figures in our district really need cash awards when some teachers are barely above the poverty line?
    Great work teachers! You are the real heroes here.

    Comment by J — 8:31 pm March 11, 2011 #

  5. The $50,000 goes directly to the school.

    Comment by mda — 9:05 pm March 11, 2011 #

  6. To respond to J,
    All of the money that was given to Denny goes directly to the school and none to Mr. Clark. As far as who deserves this award, Mr. Clark made it clear in his speech, it has been a team effort. We should celebrate this award as a Denny community made up of wonderful staff (teachers, IA’s, counselors, office support staff and adminstrators) and parents, working very hard together to do what’s best for kids.

    Comment by Future Denny parent — 10:29 pm March 11, 2011 #

  7. Mr. Clark is an absolutely amazing principal who is constantly asking the question, “What’s best for the most kids”. Although people have not always agreed on what’s best, there has never been a time that I have doubted that he was pursuing what he believed was in the best interest of the young people we serve. It has been a joy to work with him. He absolutely 100% deserves this award. Yes, it is a team effort. But the work of assembling, coaching, refocusing, and supporting that team is essential to the success of the organization. Mr. Clark makes decisions and leads from his core values and finds creative solutions to a multitude of challenges students, teachers and support workers face. I am convinced that Denny Middle School has the best principal in SPS, without question. He is a huge part of why I have remained at Denny all of these years.

    Marcus Pimpleton
    Denny Band Teacher

    Comment by Marcus Pimpleton — 9:15 am March 12, 2011 #

  8. Congrats to Mr. Clark, who truly is passionate about his school, his staff, his students, and his community. That he plans to spend part of the award purchasing every Denny student a book is very impressive. Go Dolphins!

    Comment by Shannon — 10:52 pm March 12, 2011 #

  9. On behalf of Denny’s PTSA, Congratulations to Mr. Clark and the Denny staff and teachers for their ongoing hard work and dedication to our children!

    Comment by Kathleen Steele, Denny PTSA President — 1:17 pm March 13, 2011 #

  10. Congratulations to Mr. Clark and the staff. Thank you for your hard work and dedication.

    Comment by Sheila Juta — 11:08 pm March 13, 2011 #

  11. I am so proud to be a Denny Middle School parent. Mr. Clark is a very talented leader and is so deserving of this award. My sincere congratulations to him and all Denny Staff and Teachers.

    Comment by suzanne — 5:54 am March 14, 2011 #

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