West Goshen Elementary School leaders received some very welcome news this past weekend with the announcement that their school is one of just four in the nation to receive the TAP School of Promise Award through the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching.
The honor, which came with a $5,000 financial prize, was received during the 12th annual NIET TAP Conference held Saturday and Sunday in Los Angeles. During the conference, Goshen Community Schools representatives joined with more than 1,000 fellow practitioners and policymakers from across the country who are currently working within the TAP system.
“There were 27 of us that traveled out to the conference,” said GCS Executive Director of Elementary Education Tamra Ummel, who presented news of the award during a meeting of the Goshen Board of School Trustees Monday evening. “... Obviously the West Goshen award was the highlight of the weekend.”
West Goshen Principal Alan Metcalfe was on hand to accept the prestigious award, which is given by NIET to schools demonstrating exceptional efforts while in the early stages of implementing TAP: The System for Teacher and Student Advancement.
“It was actually a big surprise. In fact, I don’t think anyone in the district knew about it,” said Metcalfe from his office Tuesday afternoon. “It’s still overwhelming to think that we got one of these awards, since they only give out four of them. It has been one of those things where it’s nice to be recognized at any level, let alone nationally.”
What is TAP?
Launched in 1999 and first adopted by GCS late last year, TAP has been billed as a revolutionary education reform that provides teachers with powerful opportunities for career advancement, ongoing job-embedded professional development, educator evaluation and performance-based compensation.
West Goshen Elementary School is one of nine TAP schools in the Goshen Community Schools district and one of 44 in the state to start implementation in the 2011-2012 school year. The district is part of a consortium implementing TAP through a federal Teacher Incentive Fund grant in partnership with the Indiana Department of Education, the Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning housed at the University of Indianapolis, and NIET.
Metcalfe was quick to point out that West Goshen’s success in implementing the TAP system is and has always been a school-wide effort.
“It’s one of those things where you know you’re doing something good when you’re doing it, and TAP has been that way for us,” Metcalfe said. “We have a really strong leadership team here in the building, and we’re very diligent about how we implement TAP and making sure we’re doing it in what we feel is the correct way.”
In other action at Monday’s meeting, board members approved a change to Goshen High School’s new 1-to-1 laptop program for incoming freshmen that would give students the option — with parent approval — to access previously blocked social media sites such as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter during off-school hours.