Spark award

Spark Academy at Cowart Elementary was recently named a Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools (CLAS) Banner School for District 8. From left are Dr Autumm Jeter, CLAS president-elect; Dr. Beth McKinney, SPARK principal; Susan Killen, SPARK instructional partner; Jennifer Kennedy, SPARK STEM specialist; and Dr. Vic Wilson, executive director of CLAS.

The honors keep on coming for SPARK Academy at Cowart Elementary, as the school was recently named a CLAS Banner School for District 8.

Last month, the school was honored as a School of Distinction by CLAS, or Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools. The Banner School award recognizes schools that serve as outstanding educational models for other schools in Alabama and is the highest district honor granted by CLAS.

The announcement was made Feb. 25 at an awards luncheon in Prattville.

“(Spark Academy has) worked so hard as a school team and as a community to transition into a discovery driven instructional model that encourages student curiosity and questioning,” said SPARK Academy Principal Dr. Beth McKinney. “This recognition is acknowledgement of all of our hard work.”

The Banner School is selected from the CLAS Schools of Distinction. Bob Jones High School in Madison and John S. Jones Elementary School in Etowah County were also recognized as CLAS Schools of Distinction. One-hundred and sixty schools were nominated for this prestigious recognition.

The CLAS Banner School program was created in 2001 to recognize schools in Alabama that showcase outstanding programs and service to students.

Athens City Schools Superintendent Trey Holladay is proud of the honor.

“The team at SPARK has fully embraced the idea of implementing a new way to approach to teach traditional standards while integrating project-based learning in our elementary schools with their STEM focus," Holladay said. "This shift in approach changes not what we teach, but how we teach it, and is the beginning of what innovative schools will look like in the future. It is fitting that they be awarded for serving as an outstanding educational model for other schools, because they truly are.”

The 2018 CLAS Banner Schools from across the state are:

• District 1: Alma Bryant School of Mobile County;

• District 2: Beverlye Magnet School of Dothan;

• District 3: Hoover High School of Hoover;

• District 4: Central High School of Tuscaloosa;

• District 5: George Washington Carver Elementary School of Macon County;

• District 6: Pleasant Valley High School of Calhoun County;

• District 7: Leeds High School of Leeds; and

• District 8: SPARK Academy at Cowart of Athens.

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