int(10) int(8) ESEA Video On Demand National ESEA Association
This video is available as a NAESPA membership benefit or for a limited time as a conference attendee.
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Dare to Be Distinguished: Smoke Rise Elementary School’s Journey of Growth & Achievement

“Dare to Be Distinguished: Smoke Rise Elementary School’s Journey of Growth and Achievement” details the targeted instructional practices that guide our school’s growth culture and the strategies used to move our school from being identified as a “Focus School” in 2015 to being honored as a “National ESEA Distinguished School” in 2021. Come and learn about our processes for data-driven planning, collaborative professional learning, artifacts for standards-based instruction, and protocols used to facilitate student ownership of learning goals. Participants will view video clips of instructional strategies in action and engage in collaborative discussions with other attendees. Join us as we share our school’s journey to “distinguished” that will inspire and empower attendees to lift up students, teachers, and leaders through a collective and unified focus on growth and achievement for ALL students.

This talk was presented at:
2023 National ESEA Conference
February 2023 in Indianapolis, IN
For more information:
Geraldine Powell

Geraldine S. Powell is an ESOL Specialist at Smoke Rise Elementary School in Dekalb County, Georgia. She received her BS in Middle School Education and MLS in Library Science and Informational Studies from Clark-Atlanta University. She also received her EdD from Nova Southeastern University. Her research focuses on improving mathematics problem-solving skills through the implementation of research-based teaching and learning strategies. As a Teacher Support Specialist, Dr. Powell shares her 35 years of instructional expertise with new Smoke Rise Elementary School teachers. 

Caroline Croom

As an instructional support liaison, with 30 years of teaching experience, my expertise is highlighting and delivering the tools my colleagues need to be academically successful. It is imperative that I support them by means of motivation, consultation, collaborative planning, and data-driven professional learning. Through establishing non-negotiables, Smoke Rise Elementary School escalated from a “Focus School” to an “ESEA Distinguished School”. Meeting the needs of educators, in turn, truly does meet the needs of students!

Pamela McCloud

Pamela McCloud brings 32 years of educational experience, with 8 of those years as the principal of Smoke Rise Elementary School. Mrs. McCloud became the school’s principal in December 2014 at a time when student achievement had fallen well below state standards at a 58.2. Over the course of the past 8 years, Mrs. McCloud has worked with her staff to increase student achievement and test scores to a score of 89.2 on the College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI), among the highest scores in the State of Georgia. Principal McCloud’s success story to gain this tremendous progress started with her efforts to connect with staff. Once relationships and priorities were established, Principal McCloud reached out to parents and students at Smoke Rise Elementary School to get them onboard. As a result, several years later, they’re all one harmonious group.

Sherrie Adams

Sherrie Adams is a dedicated educator with more than 30 years of teaching experience at the elementary and middle school levels. She has been a teacher at Smoke Rise Elementary School for ten years, serving as an Early Intervention Program teacher and a fourth-grade English Language Arts teacher. In her current role as a 5th grade ESOL teacher and Teacher Support Specialist, she models instructional strategies for teachers across the curriculum. Mrs. Adams has a passion for teaching students to think critically as they apply classroom knowledge to real-world settings. Her enthusiasm for teaching is evident by the substantial academic growth of students who have matriculated through high school, college, and beyond. Mrs. Adams has been recognized as a four-time recipient of the Teacher of the Year award corresponding to each of the four schools which she has had an affiliation. 

Syreeta McTier

Syreeta A. McTier, Ph.D., is a leader, researcher, and educator with 20 years of experience in education. For the past 9 years, Dr. McTier has proudly served as the assistant principal at Smoke Rise Elementary School. During this time, Dr. McTier has played an integral role in collaborating with the principal, teachers, staff, students, and parents to improve student growth and achievement. Dr. McTier’s work is guided by the mission to provide all students with a high-quality education in a caring environment characterized by high expectations and support for all students. As such, Dr. McTier provides direct assistance to instructional staff to effectively align curriculum, instruction, and assessment. Additionally, Dr. McTier works with teachers to analyze data to improve instruction and motivate students to meet and exceed their learning goals. Dr. McTier also encourages family engagement by hosting parent meetings to help parents understand state standards, assessments, and instructional resources.

Tonna  Jones

Ms. Tonna Jones has been an educator for 19 years within the states of Alabama and Georgia. She received her Bachelor’s of Education Degree from Alabama State University in 2002. Years later, Ms. Jones attended the University of West Alabama where she received her Master's Degree in 2010 and an Educational Specialist Degree in 2014. Since then, Ms. Jones has attained a Reading and Writing Endorsement. After teaching for four years, Ms. Jones acquired a passion for teaching students reading and writing skills. She strongly believes both concepts are essential for driving academic instruction. She has taught Prekindergarten, First, Second, and Fourth grades. Ms. Jones has also held the title of Early Intervention Program (EIP) teacher for reading and writing at her current school. In addition, Ms. Jones has implemented different resources as well as instructional strategies for both parents and students to become knowledgeable and successful within those content areas. Within the near future, Ms. Jones aspires to become an educational consultant to help reduce the amount of low academic achievement levels and performances amongst diverse learners in both reading and writing.