Madison City Schools administrators and staff who gathered for Columbia Elementary School’s achievement as a CLAS Banner School included Columbia’s MAAP Jessica Pinegar, standing from left; MCS Chief Academic Officer Dr. Heather Donaldson; Assistant Superintendent Eric Terrell; Superintendent Dr. Ed Nichols; Columbia Principal Miranda Bolden; Columbia Reading Coach Amanda Evans; Columbia Assistant Principal Kimberly Massey; and Columbia Media Specialist Stephanie Nguyen. Columbia Counselor Sadie Sturdivant, kneeling from left, and Columbia Transitional Teacher Melissa Hyde. CONTRIBUTED

Columbia reaches distinction of CLAS Banner School

MADISON – An elementary school in Madison City Schools has entered the ranks of distinguished schools that excel in reaching students.

State coordinators have designated Columbia Elementary School as a CLAS Banner School of Distinction. CLAS abbreviates “Council of Leadership for Alabama Schools.”

Created in 2001, the CLAS Banner School program recognizes schools in Alabama that showcase outstanding programs and service to students. A district’s superintendent nominates a campus for the award.

One component in CLAS distinction involves partnerships. A CLAS designee needs to have viable partnerships among teachers, students, parents, staff and administrators, along with district leaders who collaborate to confirm that students have the power to succeed.

Superintendents nominate schools with unique, student-centered programs that have succeeded during the preceding school year. Nominated principals then document details about their school’s programs in an application. Within each state board district, a district selection team reviews the applications.

“The recognition is for Columbia’s Buddy Program fostering interactions between students in general education programs and those in self-contained classrooms,” MCS Chief Academic Officer Dr. Heather Donaldson said. “While these students were joining their typical peers in classrooms for social and academic times, the Columbia team felt students would benefit from additional time to develop truly impactful friendships.”

“As time passed, more typical students became aware of the program and began to express interest in being part of it,” Donaldson said.

“The ASTRO Way,” Columbia’s moniker for the effort, confirmed that “each and every student — regardless of their differences, unique abilities or challenges — felt loved, accepted and, most importantly, celebrated,” MCS Superintendent Dr. Ed Nichols said.

Melissa Hyde, transitional teacher, helped create an atmosphere for students to have the chance to dance, sing, laugh and play games. With each event, students became more comfortable interacting with one another.

District administrators and Columbia staff gathered for a time of celebration for the announcement about Columbia’s CLAS status.

Columbia’s personnel included Principal Miranda Bolden; Assistant Principal Kimberly Massey; Reading Coach Amanda Evans; Media Specialist Stephanie Nguyen; Jessica Pinegar, Columbia’s educator in Madison Aspiring Administrator Program or MAAP; Counselor Sadie Sturdivant; and Transitional Teacher Melissa Hyde.

The Central Office staff that attended were Nichols, Donaldson and Assistant Superintendent Eric Terrell.

During that session, all of Columbia’s teachers and staff members received Crumbl Cookies as a congratulatory treat.

For more information, visit clasleaders.org.

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