Model School

Decherd Elementary School’s faculty and teaching staff proudly display a DES Model School 2021 banner proclaiming the school’s selection in the International Center for Leadership in Education’s contest. DES has garnered the coveted Model School honors for the past two years.

For the second year in a row, Decherd Elementary has been selected as a Model School from a nationwide field and will share its transformational journey and best practices at an upcoming national conference.

DES will send staff members to conduct presentations on what it has done to improve student achievement at the International Center for Leadership in Education’s 29th annual Model Schools Conference on June 27-30 at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville.

Decherd is one of 16 schools selected in the nationwide challenge.

Decherd Principal Chris Hawkersmith said he personally will be going to Nashville and is honored his school is receiving back-to-back accolades.

“Becoming a Model School for the second year in a row is a huge testimony to the huge impact DES continues to make in our students’ education, representative of our county and the impact on an entire community,” he said.

ICLE, whose mission is to challenge, inspire and equip today’s educators, selected Decherd Elementary on the grounds that it has made rapid and significant improvements in student achievement.

Hawkersmith said Decherd Elementary recognized the need for change, collectively established a vision, and its staff systematically worked together to create a learning environment that enables students of all abilities to thrive.

He said receiving the accolades is the icing on the cake to having such a successful program.

“Decherd Elementary is extremely proud and honored to be selected as a 2021 Model School,” Hawkersmith said. “It’s a huge honor. There’s only 16 selected in the United States, and that’s a very small percentage of all the schools out there. It’s quite significant to be one of them.”

A press release from ICLE said it named Decherd Elementary as a 2021 Model School for its “relentless focus on student outcomes in an unprecedented year.”

The conference provides a forum for thousands of passionate teachers and leaders to share innovative and creative strategies for developing minds of the future, the press release says.

Weston Kieschnick, ICLE associate partner, summed up the significance of being named a Model School.

“Model Schools are courageously leading the charge in every conversation they have that accounts, first and foremost, for the wellness of the learner,” he said. “Each of the 2021 Model Schools has thrived in the most challenging of times through their strength and conviction for rigor, relevance and relationships.”

Selected annually based on a number of criteria, Model Schools must have substantive, data-validated growth year over year; evidence of a strong culture that puts students at the center of learning; and dedication to transforming instruction to meet the needs and demands of the future.

Hawkersmith said Decherd Elementary went the distance to accomplish that.

“I am extremely proud of our teachers, staff, students and community for all their hard work and dedication to the continuous drive toward excellent in our school,” he said.

Kieschnick referred to the extra effort required to strive for excellence during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has interrupted class schedules and created unique learning situations due to a stronger focus on virtual learning.

“Unlike any other year, we are beyond proud to be honoring the 2021 Model Schools for digging deeper than ever to remain energized and focus on the needs of students,” he said. “The leaders and teachers at these schools truly represent courage in action.”