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Cool Schools: West Goshen Elementary wins national award

GOSHEN, Ind. -- 

West Goshen Elementary School went from failing to first place after implementing the TAP system, the system for Teacher and Student Advancement.

The school won the 2018 Tap Founders Award, presented by the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching.

West Goshen was nominated as a finalist for the award in 2017 as well. But the school wasn’t always as successful as it is now.

“When I started at West Goshen, I think the reason I got hired is because no one wanted to be here. A lot of teachers were leaving,” said Mindy Park, a 2nd grade teacher at the school. “In twelve years the culture has changed at West Goshen. Now teachers want to be here and students want to be here.”

The school adopted the TAP system in 2011. The decision gained full support from the staff, with 100 percent of the teachers voting for its implementation.

“I think the teachers at West Goshen, we believe,” said Aimee Schade, master teacher at the school. “We believe in our kids. We believe that no matter what they can do it.”

Principal Lori Line says she just asked the teachers to believe in the TAP system as well.

“When I first came to West Goshen, my first year, and I met with the staff I said just believe in the system. Believe in it. Because I’ve seen it work all over the state and all over the nation,” she said.

Now the staff at West Goshen has seen it work for them too.

“The tap system has helped make me be the teacher I always wanted to be,” said Park. “It’s really given me support and shown me areas that I can grow as a teacher.”

The goals within the school are defined and communicated clearly.

Line holds weekly leadership team meetings with mentor and master teachers, then those goals are discussed in weekly professional learning groups.

 “I think the professional development is that pipeline,” said Line. “Because it starts with our leadership team then it rolls out to our career teachers or our teachers in the classroom, then it goes to our students.”

The school earned its first “A” rating from the state in 2016, and a second “A” rating in 2017.

That achievement won the school the TAP founders award this March.

 “Just to be recognized for all our hard work I think was the best part about winning that award,” said Schade.

Line says her favorite part was seeing the student reaction.

“The best part for me was watching on Facebook live the students and how the students reacted to it,” she said. “Lots of cheers lots of crying lots of excitement.”

With the award the school won $50,000.

Line says the school plans to use some of that money to create a scholarship for a West Goshen student.

And the teachers say they’ll continue to work hard to keep a supportive and productive environment in the school.

“We were still working hard before and we’re still working hard now whether we have that award,” said Park.

Now Principal Line will be able to share her school’s success story.

She was just chosen this week as a Teach Factor Fellow for a new initiative with NIET.

It’s called the Teach Factor Initiative and gives her the platform to share effective models and solutions in teacher leadership.

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