Mount Gilead Middle School receives state award for student progress

Staff report

The Ohio Department of Education has recognized Mount Gilead Exempted Village School District Middle School with the Momentum Award for exceeding expectations in student growth for the year.

Thomas Gunlock, president of the state board of education, notified the district Monday, Nov. 14 of the achievement. The award, which was given to 54 school districts and 174 school buildings around the state, recognizes districts that have received A’s on value-added measures included on the 2016 Ohio School Report Card. Mount Gilead Schools was the only district in the area to have a building receive the Momentum Award.

According to the letter from Gunlock, “[Mount Gilead Middle School’s] report card for the 2015-2016 school year shows … pupils enjoyed greater than expected growth in reading and mathematics. [The] accomplishment makes [Mount Gilead Exempted Village Schools] part of a group of districts that is supporting the academic growth of students from every background and ability level.”

Mount Gilead Schools Superintendent Jeff Thompson noted that the award is not an easy one to receive because it is difficult to earn an A in each value-added category. According to the Department of Education, a school district must have at least two value-added subgroups of students, which include gifted, lowest 20 percent in achievement and students with disabilities.

“It’s a tremendous honor for our students, our staff and the community,” added Superintendent Thompson. “The middle school is currently in its third year of using the Hybrid Learning model and the student engagement we observe with this model is amazing. It is certainly indicative that the things we are doing are working. It demonstrates the excellent work being done and supports that we are doing the right things for our students to be highly successful.”

Middle School Principal Jon Grega states, “Almost three years ago, a group of passionate teachers believed in an approach to engage students and personalize learning. Today, we celebrate the success of our students. It’s an honor to work with both the staff and students.”

Middle school teacher Joe Ruhl was very supportive of the model in its early stages. The amount of work it takes to shift from a traditional classroom model to a hybrid learning model involves a tremendous amount of work from the teacher. Ruhl states, “Hybrid Learning has been a cultural shift for our staff and students. This award helps validate all the hard work that the staff has done to change the way we look at education at Mount Gilead Middle School.”

Sixth-grade science teacher Danielle Bault also finds value in the non-traditional approach. Bault states, “Going to the hybrid learning model has been such a positive change. It has allowed me to individualize instruction for each student while also being able to provide enrichment through project-based learning and technology. Transitioning to a hybrid classroom was a lot of work but seeing the engagement from the students and receiving this award reinforces that we are doing the right thing.”

Mount Gilead Middle School staff and student efforts have also been recognized at the recent Ohio School Boards Association Capital Conference at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. Middle School Principal Jon Grega, Superintendent Thompson, and District Technology Consultant Mark Ames gave a presentation on the middle school implementation and structure of hybrid learning. The presentation was met with positive reaction and opportunities for upcoming speaking opportunities.

Thompson was quick to note that without the support of the Board of Education and the desire of the staff to implement the model, we could not have earned this distinguished accomplishment and recognition.

Staff report