Starr Elementary selected as a Model School, leaders to present on school’s growth at national conference

Starr Elementary selected as a Model School, leaders to present on school’s growth at national conference

(News Release) Starr Elementary’s continuous story of growth in student achievement is earning them national recognition.

In the 2021-2022, the Nebraska Department of Education classified Starr as a “needs support to improve” school. Despite a leadership transition, Starr staff and students continued to improve. The next year in 2022-2023, Starr was classified as a “good” school, moving one step above where they were.

Because of successful strategies and dedication, Starr, led by Principal Selena Valentine, was recently named a Model School from the Center for Model Schools. Chosen from a distinguished array of institutions, Starr has showcased dedication to fostering student success, championing equity and inclusion, and implementing innovative strategies to address the diverse needs of its learners.

“Starr is a special place to work and attend school,” Valentine said. “ After attending the Model Schools Conference last year, it became obvious to me that GIPS and Starr are implementing many of the best practices that many model schools across the country are.”

The Center for Model Schools is the only organization devoted to providing year-round leadership support through its namesake Model Schools Conference, leadership cohorts, and 1:1 consulting. Hosted by the Center for Model Schools, the annual conference celebrates excellence and innovation in education, spotlighting exemplary practices that serve to inspire and empower educators worldwide. 

(Above: Selena Valentine, Starr Principal, connecting with a student at Starr Family Literacy Night.)

The leadership team at Starr will present at the 2024 Model Schools Conference this summer, sharing their story of growth and student success. The presentation, titled “Go Slow to Go Fast”,  will tell Starr’s story of progression from "needs support to improve" status to "good" status by the NDE after year one with a new administrator.

“A collaborative leadership style was my focus, as there was already a good culture in place from previous leadership. There was a need to ‘go slow’ and not change a lot of things,” Valentine said.  “Our team established consistent meetings and focused on using data to determine next steps with school improvement initiatives. We tried to not take everything on all at once,” she stated about their process.

Valentine said the team at Starr focused on one instructional/teaming strategy at a time and supported each other in implementation. Behavioral data was also used to identify a need for a tier two positive support system. They began implementation of those processes during Valentine’s first year at Starr.

(Above: Andrew Streck, Starr 4th Grade Teacher, leading a poetry project with a student.)

A tier two positive support system is part of the Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS), which is a framework schools use to address student behavior and learning needs. MTSS is a districtwide system GIPS has implemented focusing on early interventions and teaching social emotional skills, which support students’ academic needs. Tier two consists of more specific solutions to meet the needs of students. It is designed to support students when the foundational supports (tier one) alone aren’t meeting students’ social, emotional, behavioral, physical, environmental, or academic needs.

“I believe the increase in our perception data and our academic data also helped to contribute to our improved NDE status,” Valentine shared.  

Through collaborative initiatives and an unwavering commitment to continuous improvement, Starr has become an example of excellence in the realm of education.

“Every student deserves a model school. It’s powerful to see how educators are creating cultures of learning to benefit the students and communities they serve,” says Dr. Joshua P. Starr, Managing Partner for the Center for Model Schools. “We look forward to celebrating their success stories and learning from them.”

After attending the 2023 Model Schools Conference, Valentine told her team she was determined that they would be back, except next time they would be the ones presenting. And she was right.

“Educators need to be recognized for the great things they are doing, and I'm so thankful that Model Schools is recognizing the work that we are doing at Starr!” Valentine said.