Georgia Lighthouse Schools
to Watch Re-Designation
It is a pleasure to re-designate Lee Middle School for the first time as a Georgia Lighthouse School to Watch.
There is a strong commitment from the faculty and staff to help all students achieve at Lee Middle School. It is apparent that teachers enjoy working with students and this caring and respectful feeling permeates the school. Lee Middle School is totally committed to creating an atmosphere and learning environment where students come first. The staff stressed that a sense of family exists at Lee, and this speaks volumes about the positive culture they have developed. The school has worked diligently to take the actions needed related to growth areas from the initial Lighthouse visit. The staff should be commended for tackling this hard work with intention and integrity. The new administrative team has helped develop a cohesive and positive culture among faculty and staff members that is reflected through the happy and successful students at Lee. The faculty is eager to embrace new learning and strives to continuously improve their practice.
Lee Middle School Named A Georgia Lighthouse School to Watch
Nine middle schools in Georgia submitted an application to be considered for a Georgia Lighthouse School to Watch (LSTW). Of the nine schools applying, three were granted a visit by the LSTW committee. Lee Middle School was the only school in Georgia to be designated as a Georgia Lighthouse School to Watch for the 2011-2012 school year. There are 288 Lighthouse Schools to Watch in 19 states according to the National Forum of Schools to Watch. Currently, there are 15 Lighthouse Schools to Watch in Georgia. Being designated as a Lighthouse School to Watch is one of the most prestigious national honors that a middle school can earn. Lee Middle School will be honored at the National Forum of Schools to Watch in Washington, DC in June.
Georgia Lighthouse Schools to Watch Program Description
The Georgia Lighthouse Schools to Watch program is an independent, comprehensive, and long-term middle school improvement program. Georgia launched it in 2002 when the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform selected Georgia as one of the first three states to institute the Schools to Watch program. Now, many other states have established comparable programs in this nationally recognized network of high-performing middle schools. The Georgia Lighthouse Schools to Watch is part of the National Forum of Schools to Watch Program.
Lighthouse schools are focused on school improvement, and they assume responsibility to be models and mentors. They host visitors and participate in various professional development activities and conferences in fulfilling this special outreach responsibility.
Lighthouse schools are committed to their own continuous improvement and must reapply and be visited every three years to retain the designation.
The program’s standards are incorporated in four categories of criteria:
• Academic Excellence
• Developmental Responsiveness
• Social Equity
• Organizational Structures and Processes
Profiles of current Georgia Lighthouse Schools to Watch are available on the GMSA Web site.
The program also seeks to make all educators, parents, and citizens aware of the characteristics of high-performing middle schools and the special importance of the early adolescence years. The program, sponsored by Georgia Middle School Association (GMSA) and Georgia Alliance for Middle Level Excellence (GAMLE), is directed by a 10-member Board of Directors, all veteran middle level educators. GMSA and the following sponsors provide the funds to operate the program: Georgia Public Broadcasting, Promethean, eInstruction, and Texas Instruments. All individuals serving in the program are volunteers.
Schools who have completed the School Self-Study and Rating Rubric and believe that they are ready request an application.
A School Leadership Team assumes responsibility for completing the comprehensive, written application. Applications are due June 30. Applications are assessed individually by board members, who then meet to determine which schools warrant a site visit. Teams of five or more trained middle level educators subsequently conduct two-day site visits to schools selected. When all team reports have been completed, the board determines which schools, if any, can be designated as Georgia Lighthouse Schools. Some schools that have been visited but do not fully meet all the criteria may be designated as Beacon Schools and are encouraged to reapply. A celebration involving the student body, faculty, staff, and representatives from the community and businesses is held in each school following the school's designation as a Georgia Lighthouse School to Watch. Each school then receives a symbolic ceramic lighthouse, a bronze plaque, a banner, and a distinctive lighthouse lapel pin for each faculty and staff person.
Lee Middle School will hold its Lighthouse School to Watch celebration in the spring of 2012 after state-mandated testing.