Ecker Hill Middle School ‘School to Watch’
It’s customary for a sporting team to unveil its championship banner during the home opener for the next season. With the school year coming to conclusion at the end of this week of class, Ecker Hill Middle School couldn’t wait until next school year to display their achievement.
Although the school didn’t have a banner to hang from the rafters, hundreds of balloons fell from the ceiling of the school’s gymnasium to help students and administration celebrate the schools’ latest recognition as a ‘School to Watch’.
In March, Ecker Hill became the 11th Utah middle school in 14 years to be named a National School to Watch by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle School Reforms.
"This has been a great honor and opportunity for Ecker Hill," Evans said. "We are now among a group of high-performing middle schools and we can learn from each other. I believe you can achieve greatness by working together."
The school has joined the ranks of about 380 middle schools across the country since 1999 that have met the 37 criteria required to make the list. The criteria fall into three categories: academic excellence, development responsiveness and social equality. In addition, there must be organizational structures in place to support, sustain and increase performance in those areas.
In order to reach these strict demands, Evans, along with her staff started making changes to the way students learned at the school.
With over two years of preparation to get the school at the level needed to be recognized, different programs were initiated into the students’ daily schedules to help them become their best, according to Evans.
During these efforts, Evans and her staff recognized learning is constant, and time can be used effectively to help students learn.
In order to ensure students were receiving enough time to absorb learning material, Evans and the facility created different periods throughout the day, giving students the opportunity to catch up on work. The school also broke students into six teams, to give them a chance to institute a common planning time, and to receive more individual attention.
"Partnering with parents and having an open-door policy is also a big focus in the school’s success," Evans added.
Later this month, the school team will be traveling to Washington D.C. to be recognized by the National Forum.
"This is where we will be benefiting the most from becoming a Schools to Watch school," Evans said. "Now that we have joined the ranks of the other select schools around the country, we will get the chance to participate in conferences and workshops and see what other top schools are doing."
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