Principal Meghan Karr stressed that data compiled by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education were not the sole factors FranklinCovey representatives reviewed for the Exemplary Academic Growth Award.

Students and faculty at Eugene Field Elementary School are shining a beacon on academic improvement through an accolade they received from the Leader in Me Lighthouse School program.

Principal Meghan Karr said the school received the Exemplary Academic Growth award from FranklinCovey — the organization that awards the Leader in Me and Lighthouse School distinctions — which determines the award through independent, non-profit assessments of academic data from year to year. Karr stressed that data compiled by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education were not the sole factors FranklinCovey representatives reviewed for the Exemplary Academic Growth Award. She said she shared in the excitement felt by administrators, faculty members, students and parents for the latest award — following the school’s designation as a Lighthouse School in April 2016.

School-wide, Annual Performance Report (APR) results slipped from 70 points in 2016 to 61 points in 2017, but MAP test scores surged in many areas — including English and Language Arts for fourth graders — which showed that 29.4 percent of students ranked proficient and 5.9 percent ranked advanced in 2016; 40 percent of students ranked proficient and 11.4 ranked advanced in 2017. Kindergarten teacher Brandee Smashey emphasized that goal-setting in each classroom and throughout the school helped students to reach higher levels of academic success, and she said she felt proud of all of the dedication put forth by students, teachers and family members.

“We really worked hard to implement the seven habits in our daily lives in school and outside of school, and we really work with our kids to set high goals and work toward reaching those goals,” she said. “I think that’s really helped with their academics. We want them to always be working toward whatever goal they accept for themselves.”

The FranklinCovey Leader in Me program incorporates seven habits that form a basis for school curriculum and activities — be proactive; begin with the end in mind; put first things first; think win-win; seek first to understand, then to be understood; sharpen the saw and synergize. Karr said everyone in the school works together to use the habits to excel in their academic pursuits.

“I think it really goes back to habit seven — synergize — our students, our faculty and staff and our parents are all working together to create positive things,” she said. “And whether that be leadership skills or academics or citizenship skills — all of these things go together, and those seven habits are really showing great things for our students.” Fifth grade student Jarren Landis echoed those sentiments.

“To be a leader, to me, you have to follow the seven habits,” he said. “For me, they’re kind of like rules — once you accomplish those rules in your life, then you can grow up to be a leader or a bigger leader.”

Reach reporter Trevor McDonald at trevor.mcdonald@courierrpost.com