Dallas School Makes Turn Around, Nominated for Blue Ribbon School Recognition

Jack Lowe Elementary School in Dallas has had quite the turn around. Not long ago, the school had the lowest test score in the state.

The Dallas Independent School District hired Principal Sandra Barrios to right the ship. She started to put kids in smaller groups, where they could get more one-on-one attention.

Students are experimenting with different learning styles and setting goals.

Fifth-grader Eduardo Romero is learning Portuguese. He's working to raise his STAAR test score and has long-term goals to be a civil engineer.

His drive isn't unique.

Jack Lowe's test scores have shot up -- it's one of the highest improvement schools in Texas and its gains are so remarkable the school was nominated to be a Blue Ribbon School, the highest honor given to any school in the United States.

"To go from bottom to top in the nation, that's an amazing amount of work our teachers put in, and let me emphasize, we do know here the work here is done by the teachers," Barrios said.

Laura Laywell has taught at the school for eight years.

"The focus is not just on content and academics, but we believe that in order to teach someone you have to know them and they have to feel trusted by you," she said.

Relationships with the students and each other. Teachers are working together, speaking up when the "master plan" doesn't work, and taking risks to help kids learn.

"If you walk into any classroom, the teacher and students will be able to share things that have gone really well but also their hopes for next year," Laywell said.

Barrios saw her teachers were staying late, helping students, and coming up with creative lesson plans. She opened a gym on campus to help the teachers stay in shape. There's meditation and breathing classes and she orders food to make sure her teachers are supported.

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