Duval principal named best in state

Deborah Crotty from Pearson Elementary one of Florida's Top Principals

By Crystal Moyer - Traffic/reporter
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Florida TaxWatch Center for Educational Performance & Accountability and the Learning Systems Institute at Florida State University announced the top six performing principals in Florida's high-risk public schools. The principals were revealed Wednesday as recipients of the Florida TaxWatch Principal Leadership Awards. Recognition is based on analysis of student achievement gains in reading and mathematics in high-risk schools.

Deborah Crotty, principal of Rutledge H. Pearson Elementary School made the top six list.

Other honorees include:

  • Susan Cavinee, Mill Creek Elementary School - Osceola
  • Kelli Hunter-Sheppard, Leisure City K-8 Center - Miami-Dade
  • Sheila Windom, Memorial Middle School - Orange
  • Cassandra Robinson, Dillard High School - Broward
  • Benny Valdes, Miami Senior High School - Miami-Diade

"Great leadership is the cornerstone of a successful school," said Education Commissioner Pam Stewart. "Congratulations to the great leaders honored with the Principal Leadership Award. I applaud the bold action each of them has taken to ensure their students have the best chance for success in college, career and life."

The Principal Leadership Awards program is part of the Florida TaxWatch and Learning Systems Institute Principal Leadership Initiative. The goal of the initiative is to improve student achievement in high-risk schools and close the achievement gap by studying the identified principals and changing state policies to reflect their successful practices.

"These six principals are breaking down barriers to achievement for high-risk students by creating the best learning environment for their success," said Robert Weissert, Chief Research Officer for Florida TaxWatch. "By applying the characteristics that help these principals foster student achievement to all principals in all schools, Florida can ensure every student can be successful in the classroom, regardless of race, class, zip code, or school zone."

While there are existing awards programs for Florida principals, the Florida TaxWatch Principal Leadership Award is the only data-driven honor given to those who exceed expectations in learning gains for at-risk students in high-risk schools.

High-risk schools have high percentages of students with disabilities, students designated as English as a Second Language learners, and those eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch.

Crotty will be one of the principals recognized at a ceremony in Orlando on October 16, 2014 where she will receive a generous financial award sponsored by the Florida Lottery, Kyra Infotech, J.M. Rubin Foundation, State Farm, Wells Fargo, and Brighthouse Networks.

The principals will also be recognized at the State Board of Education meeting in Orlando on November 18, 2014.

To be eligible for the award, candidates must have been at their school for a minimum of three years to ensure their policies were impactful. No nominations were accepted for the awards; only DOE data were analyzed to determine the winning principals.

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