B. H. Tharrington Primary School (BHT) was honored on December 9 by the Piedmont Triad Education Consortium with a Signature School Award. This award is given to schools that have experienced significant improvements over the past academic year. BHT earned this notable recognition as a result of their academic and innovative accomplishments over the 2015-2016 school year.
BHT is a Kindergarten through second-grade school with a rate of over 65% students receiving free and reduced lunch, but this does not stop them from growing every child in their building. The students are often coming into the school unprepared but over 72% leave the school at or above grade level in DIBELS, which measures the acquisition of early literacy skills for elementary students. On average, students grow more than a year’s worth each academic year which helps close the achievement gap. BHT is a feeder school to Jones Intermediate that houses third through fifth grades, has achieved Exceeded Growth status, and is in the top 4% of the state for overall growth.
Principal, Olivia Byerly, noted, “It is an honor to receive the Signature School Award. BHT staff members work daily to achieve excellence and personalize education for all students. This excellence is evident through the EVAAS composite score of over 7.0 for the 2015-2016 school year.”
BHT not only exceeds growth academically but they are innovatively preparing their students to be College and Career Ready. In conjunction with all schools in Mount Airy City Schools, they implement a Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) framework. The school adds a bonus to this structure by including a global emphasis. The school’s STEAM teacher works with every child and collaborates with each teacher to deliver STEAM Global units throughout the year. Part of the global emphasis allows each grade level to focus on different continents while each classroom learns about their own country. Students are exposed to traditions, crafts, languages, and educational opportunities in their country of study. This global focus is not a separate moment of learning but is incorporated into their daily schedule and lessons. This provides BHT the opportunity to prepare their students to not only be problem-solvers but to be global thinkers.
Dr. Kim Morrison, Superintendent, states, “We are so proud of B.H. Tharrington for all of their academic progress and innovation. They have been recognized by PTEC for their outstanding progress. We believe they represent all that is great about MACS.”
In addition to the global focus with STEAM, the 2015-2016 year was the first year of the Language Leaders program. The potential of this program gained momentum quickly and has created the need for a waiting list of students eager to participate in this learning environment. Students in this program experience 80 to 90% of their day in Spanish. This is a dual immersion structure with the goal of half of the students being native Spanish speakers and half native English speakers. BHT has received statewide and national recognition for this innovative program.
BHT teachers also encourage students to grow to their full potential by implementing the Leader in Me approach. This nationally recognized program helps to grow students as leaders and BHT strives to showcase students’ potential leadership throughout each classroom and the school. Students set their own academic and personal goals and have student-led conferences with their parents to show their progress to their goals. Students are visible each morning with various responsibilities and are often seen welcoming visitors, providing tours, and leading school-wide assemblies.