POCOMOKE – Pocomoke Elementary School earned recognition as a National Title I Distinguished School this week.
“We are incredibly excited to have Pocomoke Elementary School recognized for the outstanding work the administration and staff are doing to ensure the children in Pocomoke are achieving at high levels,” Superintendent Lou Taylor said. “The efforts of the PES family are commendable, and this is certainly a day to celebrate not only in Pocomoke, but across our county.”
The National Title I Distinguished Schools Program was created in 1996 to highlight the efforts of Title I schools making significant improvements for their students. Schools are honored in one of three categories — exceptional student performance for two consecutive years, closing the achievement gap or excellence in serving a special population of students. Pocomoke Elementary earned its recognition for exceptional student performance.
Principal Michael Browne says this is the second time in five years the school has received the recognition, something state officials told him had never happened before.
Browne credits the FAME (Formative Assessment for Maryland Educators) initiative, which has been in place at PES for three years, with the increase in student achievement that led to the Title I honor. Beverly Watson, FAME specialist, says teachers have worked ongoing formative assessments into the curriculum so that rather than simply testing student comprehension at the end of a unit, they monitor it throughout the process.
“I think it’s played a tremendous role in supporting students,” she said. “You see a great deal of growth across the board.”
Browne said along with FAME, his school’s efforts to do more with technology and increase parent involvement had also had a positive impact on student achievement. Melissa Freistat, assistant principal at PES, said the school had implemented activities to get parents involved in their children’s education.
“Parent engagement is important,” she said. “That plays a big role in student achievement … I think it’s important the public know it’s a partnership. We’re all pieces of a puzzle fit together for the betterment of the child.”
Browne agreed and said the National Title I Distinguished School recognition was an honor for the entire PES community. He says it’s a great feeling to watch PES students — 72 percent of whom come from households of poverty — walk into school each day eager to learn in spite of any hardship they might face.
“They strive to learn,” Browne said. “This is an honor for the students as well as the staff.”