Huxford shines

Published 3:00 am Monday, May 11, 2009

By By MaryClaire Foster
After nearly a year’s work of research made possible by 10,000 miles of travel, 300 interviews and countless e-mails and phone calls, “Lessons Learned from Rural Schools” was released this month.
A banquet was held Wednesday night in Prattville to release the publication and recognize each school, which included Huxford Elementary School, for their achievements and for their participation in the study.
The study was done by Larry Lee, director of the Center for Rural Alabama; Gerald Carter, a personality assessment expert and Dr. Owen Sweatt, a specialist in educational leadership and organizational behavior.
Together, these three men traversed the state to discover just what made these rural schools, each faced with a multitude of obstacles, rise above and excel.
The first criteria in picking the 10 schools for the study was that at least 65 percent of students received free lunch. This criterion was then whittled down to those whose Alabama Reading and Math Test scores exceeded standards and then again reduced to those with the highest percentage of those scores. Finally the 10 were selected also based on geography and demographics, with the study’s leaders wanting to ensure a true sampling of the state’s rural schools was represented.
The study was made possible with the help of Ron Sparks, commissioner for the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries; Jerry Newby, president of the Alabama Farmers Federation and Calvin Miller, president of the Economic Development Association of Alabama and executive director of the Talladega County Economic Development Authority.
Newby, in addressing the crowd at the banquet, gave credit to Lee for his vision for the study and gave his evaluation of the study’s results.
Huxford Elementary School Principal Donna Silcox said participating in the study reaffirmed her belief that the school and the faculty are some of the best in the state.
The study found that overall, each school: has high expectations of their students, build a good trusting relationship with the community and parents, have a clean and attractive facility, communicate with parents, act as a family, are proactive in finding funding for the school and has all faculty taking an active part in all aspects of the school.

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