ACMS re-designated as a ‘School to Watch’

By Hannah Myers - [email protected]

WARRENSVILLE — Ashe County Middle School recently achieved a milestone by becoming one of six schools in the nation re-designated as a “School to Watch” for a fourth time.

The achievement was recognized by the Ashe County Board of Education during its regular meeting on Monday, Aug. 3. ACMS Literacy Specialist Julie Taylor, ACMS Assistant Principal Elaine Cox and Doug Brady, past president of the North Carolina Association of Middle Level Education, appeared before the board to give a presentation explaining the process behind becoming a “School to Watch.”

Ashe County Middle School first earned Schools to Watch (STW) status in 2003 and was re-designated in 2006, 2009 and in 2012.

“I’m very proud to say that we are one of the few Schools to Watch that has re-designation for the fourth time,” Taylor said.

STW is initiated by the North Carolina Association of Middle Level Education (NCMLE) and recognizes schools that demonstrate academic excellence, developmental responsiveness to the needs and interests of young adolescents, commitment to helping all students achieve at high levels, possess strong leadership, have teachers who work together to improve curriculum and instruction and commitment to assessment and accountability to bring about continuous improvement.

Schools are able to apply for STW once every three years.

According to Brady, there are approximately 750 middle schools in North Carolina. Only two North Carolina Middle Schools have maintained all the necessary criteria for STW since 2003.

“As president for the last 18 months, I have been able to visit close to half of the middle schools and Ashe County is one I mention every time,” Brady said. “If you want to see a good school at work, go visit Ashe County Middle.”

Only six schools in the nation have maintained STW status since first designated in 2003 including Ashe County Middle School and Rugby Middle School of North Carolina, Castaic Middle School, Culver City Middle School and Silverado Middle School of California and Crabapple Middle School of Georgia.

“These schools demonstrate that high-performing middle grades schools have a clear focus on academic growth and achievement,” Linda Hopping, Chair of the National Forum’s Schools to Watch Oversight Committee, stated. “They also recognize the importance of meeting the needs of all of their students and ensuring that each and every child has access to a rigorous, high-quality education. We are proud to have these schools serve as models from which others can learn.”

ACMS representatives also attended the STW conference in Washington, DC which celebrates the accomplishments of middle level schools and allows designated schools come together to share great practices.

According to NCMLE’s website, recognized schools will be featured in state and national publications and will be visited by educators from around the country. Only 400 schools have been recognized by STW across the nation.

ACMS has had three principals since first being designated in 2003 including: Nancy Reeves, Bobby Ashley and Earl Pennington. Dustin Farmer recently became the newest ACMS Principal in July of this year and will serve for the upcoming 2015-16 school year.

For more information about Schools to Watch, visit

Hannah Myers can be reached at 336-846-7164 or on Twitter @cmedia_hmyers.

By Hannah Myers

[email protected]

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