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'We are the melting pot of Marion County': South side school honored for educational excellence

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Posted at 10:31 AM, Apr 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-13 10:32:12-04

MARION CO. — In 2020 many teachers were forced out of their classrooms and told to socially distance themselves from the students they need to reach.

“Teachers, they really are the MVPs,” said Douglas Macarthur principal, Star Hardimon.

Despite everything, Douglas Macarthur Elementary students stayed open to learning and achieving.

“We’ve been on cloud nine since the day of the announcement,” said Hardimon.

On Monday, the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching presented the school with a check for $50,000. The check was presented during a celebration dinner attended by the Indiana Secretary of Education Katie Jenner, NIET CEO Candace McQueen, and state lawmakers. The school received a senate resolution from the state congratulating them on their achievement.

“We do want to spend the money to support what we are already doing,” said Hardimon.

The sound of success echoes through the corridors as young people from all different walks of life come together to learn on a higher level.

“Perry Township Schools is probably one of the most diverse school districts in the state of Indiana,” said Superintendent Pat Mapes.

“We are working with students of color all the time, we have a huge refuge population as well. At times, I say we are the melting pot of Marion County,” said Mapes

That’s just part of what set them apart when it comes to getting this award.

“It’s not that they just grew academically, but they were growing academically much more than the state average,” said Mapes.

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On Monday the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching presented the school with a check for $50,000.

Read, in part, the school's announcement below:

The National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET) announced today that Douglas MacArthur Elementary School in Perry Township Schools, Indiana, has been selected as the recipient of the 2021 NIET Founder’s Award and its $50,000 grand prize. NIET Chairman and Founder Lowell Milken and CEO Dr. Candice McQueen surprised the school at a virtual celebration during the NIET National Conference, attended by over 1,200 educators and leaders from across the country.

Douglas MacArthur exemplifies NIET’s work with schools to develop school and teacher leaders, collaborate on successful strategies, and provide feedback and support to peers that address teacher and student needs. The implementation of these practices at high levels – boosted by the support and commitment of Perry Township Schools under Superintendent Pat Mapes – has made Douglas MacArthur a proud “A” state-rated school where teachers continuously analyze data, challenge their thinking, grow as learners, and get results.

“Douglas MacArthur educators set high expectations, and create the structures for collaboration, support, and reflection to reach them. In turn, students are adopting those same qualities, taking charge of their learning, and becoming independent thinkers,” NIET Chairman and Founder Lowell Milken said. “I congratulate Principal Star Hardimon for making these practices a reality in every classroom, and to Superintendent Pat Mapes for his long-standing dedication to supporting every teacher and student in his district. This is what it takes to achieve excellence for all.”

For 20 years, NIET has partnered with schools, districts, states, and universities to ensure all students have effective educators. NIET has served more than 9,000 schools and has impacted more than 275,000 teachers and 2.75 million students.

NIET’s partner schools have shown success by both outperforming similar schools and having greater teacher retention. Schools including Douglas MacArthur have continued to advance during the pandemic through the use of NIET’s new tools and resources to accommodate virtual instruction, support from expert leaders and trainers, and access to a large network of educators united around shared learning. The Founder’s Award was created by Lowell Milken to honor one school annually for exceptional implementation of NIET’s principles to build educator excellence and advance student success.

“When we equip and support teachers, students win. As we look back on this past year, it has never been clearer that excellent teachers are the difference-maker,” said NIET CEO Dr. Candice McQueen. “Principal Hardimon and her team are focused on aligning their teaching with high-quality content and the real needs of the classroom. The proof is in their results and efforts to go further every year.”