Beat the Odds

Kyrene de las Lomas Principal Brian Gibson in his office on Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012.

[David Jolkovski/AFN]

One Ahwatukee school is striving for student success through a principal mentoring program.

Kyrene de las Lomas Elementary School Principal Brian Gibson has participated in the three-year-long Beat the Odds program, a program in which he received a Bronze medal in his second year.

Stemming from a research project by the Center for the Future of Arizona, Beat the Odds aims to implement six keys to success in schools across the state. The research team found those keys to be a clear bottom line, ongoing assessment, a strong, steady principal, collaborative solutions, adherence to the program, and tailored programs to fit student’s needs.

Gibson, who is in his last leg of the program, said he can see a difference in his school since participating.

“Over the past three years, our scores in reading readiness and AIMS reading has improved,” Gibson said. “Now we’re going to take the same approach in mathematics.”

Research shown from the 2001 study by the Center for the Future of Arizona indicated that educational success of Latino students was lacking. As a growing demographic, at the time gaining majority in public schools, the awareness eventually led to a new study in 2006 that showed high-performing Latino schools.

Available to all schools in Arizona that wish to participate in the program, Beat the Odds pairs each school’s principal with a mentor.

“It really helps me stay focused,” Gibson said.

Though much of the work is done with the mentor and principal of the school, Gibson said other staff members and teachers also benefit from the program.

More than 30 school districts in Arizona have participated in the program since it started in 2007.

Kyrene de las Lomas is one of two schools in the Kyrene School District involved in the Beat the Odds program. Principal Dan Langston, of Kyrene de las Manitas in Tempe, has also received a Bronze medal for his school.

“It’s nice to be able to share with your staff achievements you have made,” said Langston about the recognition.

After each year a school completes the program, their schools, student scores, and understanding will be assessed. The Bronze medal is the starting point, moving on to a Silver medal, and eventually a Gold medal at the end of the program.

“Next year, we’re hoping for Gold,” Gibson said.

For more information on the Beat the Odds program, visit


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