By Frank Lewis
NEW BOSTON — State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Richard Ross was in New Boston Thursday to present his “Schools of Promise” award to Stanton Elementary School.
“It is a collaboration and teamwork of the teachers and the students,” Stanton Principal Diane Chamberlin told the Daily Times. “We know our kiddos. We love our kiddos and care for them deeply. By knowing your kids and understanding the children I think that they can advance if you understand what they need, what their interests are. We’re connectors as teachers, and we’re builders. So, if you know your children; if they trust you and if you bring to the table, which my teachers do, best practices, then you’ve got a winning combo there.”
All public elementary and secondary schools administering the Ohio Achievement and Ohio Graduation Tests were considered for the award, and of those receiving the award, several criteria were involved including the poverty rate. New Boston Schools have a 90 percent free or discount lunch participation, and Ross commented on that point.
“We’re looking at 4,000 school buildings in this state and there’s probably 130 Schools of Promise in this state,” Ross said. “So this is a big deal. The students that come to this school with needs and some burdens they have to carry have found that this community has banded together and overcome those and demonstrated that, that is really the message I want to carry. Then, I want schools like this to talk to other schools around the state. The hair bristles up on my back when they say, ‘They come from a poor family so they can’t learn.’ It’s not true. We can do it. We need to do it. It happens in spots across the state. We need to replicate that. We need schools like this to be talking to schools that aren’t getting it done as well, to make sure that it does happen.”
New Boston Superintendent Mike Staggs echoed Ross’s sentiments.
“This is affirmation that our kids and our teachers are doing the right thing,” Staggs said. “For a poorer school district to achieve at that level, this is remarkable, and the staff and administration is very proud of our kids.”
Tears streamed down Chamberlin’s face as she sat in her office basking in that rare sunlight of achievement following the presentation of a banner to her students.
“First and foremost it’s about the love of children,” Chamberlin said. “I love our kiddos so much because I have been here for 24 years, and to see their faces and to see them so happy today and the teachers so happy, I am very proud of what they have accomplished. It’s all about them. We think about these kids every day and every night and about what they need. And we have support from the board and from the administration.”
Ross said it does take a community to bring about academic excellence.
“It’s about parents, kids and teachers together, and this is what happens,” Ross said. “When I see city council members, the mayor, board members and teachers together, I know we’ve got a community that cares.”
Staggs summed up his pride for the school system by giving Chamberlin credit for her leadership.
“There is not a better elementary principal anywhere,” Staggs said.
Frank Lewis can be reached at 740-353-3101, Ext. 252, or on Twitter @FrankLewispdt