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Two Liberty schools on state 'reward' list
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Two Liberty County elementary schools were named Wednesday in a Georgia Department of Education designation for institutions with the highest performance or largest academic gains by students in the past three years.
Taylors Creek Elementary School was among 78 on the highest-performing list, and Jordye Bacon Elementary School was among 156 schools that made the cut for high progress, according to information released from the DoE.
“We are extremely proud of both Taylors Creek Elementary and of Jordye Bacon Elementary,” Liberty County Superintendent Dr. Judy Scherer said. “These awards show that any student can receive an outstanding education in Liberty County no matter what school they attend if they take advantage of the opportunities offered.”
She added that the awards also show the tremendous efforts of teachers and other staff to overcome obstacles and ensure the success of all students.  
No schools from Bryan, Long, Chatham, Tattnall or McIntosh counties made the highest-performing list. Five Chatham elementary schools were listed as progress schools, but Bryan, Long, Tattnall and McIntosh did not have schools on that list.
The new designations stem from the federal waiver that releases Georgia from No Child Left Behind accountability standards.
Instead of classifying schools as distinguished schools or needs improvement, the new Georgia College and Career Ready Performance Index, or GCCRPI, categorizes schools as reward, priority, focus or alert schools.
Jordye Bacon Assistant Principal Debra Sukaratana responded on behalf of principal Dr. Mike Johnson to reports the school is among the “10 percent of Title 1 schools in the state that are making the most progress in improving the performance of the ‘all students’ group.”
“Dr. Johnson and I are very proud of our teachers and staff and students; it’s definitely a testament to how hard our staff and students have worked,” Sukaratana said. “We’re really proud of the accomplishment, and it just shows the dedication that we give … we’re definitely a tight-knit family, and we love and care for all of our students, and this just proves that fact.”
Jordye Bacon is in its final year of operations as an elementary school because the Liberty County Board of Education recently voted to convert the campus to split use by Ombudsman programs and the Coastal Academy. Jordye Bacon students have been rezoned, and moving teachers and staff is the next step.
Sukaratana said receiving the news is like a double-edged sword.  
“It’s great for the kids and the recognition, but it makes us sad that it’s also coming to end,” she added.
Scherer said the reward will not influence where JBE administrators are placed.
Taylors Creek last year participated in a Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education showcase designed to help spread successful education practices to industry insiders statewide. This year, Principal Dr. Debbie Rodriguez was named Georgia’s 2012 national distinguished principal by the National Association of Elementary School Principals and the U.S. Department of Education.
Taylors Creek Principal Dr. Debbie Rodriguez responded to news that the school is among the 5 percent of Title 1 schools in the state that has the “highest absolute performance over three years for the ‘all students’ group” according to a DoE release.
“It’s such exciting news, we’ve been jumping up and down, screaming and just having a woo-hoo time this morning,” Rodriguez said. “It’s just another chance for us to celebrate that Taylors Creek is one of America’s best schools because of the fantastic teachers, the collaboration among the teachers and students, and the compassion that we have for each other.
“We really use scientifically based teaching strategies, we read the research and we do it, and the results come from that,” she said, adding that the school gives everyone a voice.  
Priority, focus and alert lists were released earlier this year. As the Courier previously reported, Snelson-Golden and Lewis Frasier middle schools were named as focus schools.
The designations are based on the 2011 composite of CRCT scores in reading, English language arts and math; the Georgia Alternative Assessment in math and English; and the end-of-course tests for ninth-grade literature and composition, American literature, math I and II, algebra and geometry. Other factors include graduation rate, Title 1 status and disparity between subgroup performances within a school.

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