Kyrene de las Lomas and Kyrene de las Manitas elementary schools recently received gold awards and were named “Beat the Odds Schools” by Beat the Odds Institute, an initiative of the center for the future of Arizona.

The two schools were the only institutes that received the gold award in the entire state.

Schools in Arizona were given the chance to participate in becoming a Beat the Odds school, where principals attended monthly meetings collaborating ideas towards success and each school was given a school mentor.

Mentors visited the school on a monthly basis during the three-year program, where they worked on specific goals and developed action plans for schools.

Each year through the Beat the Odds program schools were given three awards: bronze, silver and gold, if requirements were met.

During the first year, schools received a bronze medal if an action plan was designed, the silver medal was awarded to schools showing academic growth, and the gold was awarded to schools that showed three years of continuous improvement.

Lomas received all three awards.

Lomas celebrated its award during a school assembly last Thursday, where Principal Brian Gibson thanked each student for their hard work towards achieving academic success.

“I had a mentor who helped guide me with questions I had, gave me solutions and helped me problem solve,” Gibson said. “It was an exciting opportunity for me to have professional growth and mentoring beyond what my district offered.”

Beat the Odds is centered around six keys to success, which focus on emphasizing the achievement of every student in every classroom and taking responsibility for that performances; assess student performance early and often; leaders are focused on the things that truly improve schools and keep pushing ahead; responsibility for the improvement is shared among all; sticking to a beneficial program; and customizing instruction and intervention to fit the needs of each student.

Beat the Odds mentor for Lomas, Kathi Frankel, worked for the past three years along side Gibson assisting from validating different plans at the school to organizing with different areas that were in need of improvement.

“We did a lot of shadowing, visiting classrooms and designing educational programs,” Frankel said.

During the school assembly Gibson shared how the school was able to receive the gold award with the students, and spoke about the three goals he had for Lomas.

Gibson’s goals for the school were becoming a Beat the Odds school, receiving notoriety from the press on the success the school has gained and receiving an “A” rating from the state.

Currently, the school has achieved two of the goals set by its principal, and is currently working towards the “A” rating (Lomas is currently a B-rated school).

Goals were achieved by the hard work from staff and students who continue to strive for higher-academic success, Gibson said.

“We’re always talking about goals and setting goals and it is just nice when you see that come to fruition. To think three years ago this is the goal that we set... Achieving it was really exciting.”

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