LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — A Las Vegas principal is motivating her teachers and students to go above and beyond. The result? Her elementary school's star ranking shot up in just one year.
Emily Petosa is serious about student achievement. She became the principal of Edwards Elementary School 2 years ago. Once she walked the halls of Edwards Elementary School, she knew, she wanted to make a difference, and her leadership has had a major impact. Her school's star ranking is shining a little brighter now -- moving up from 2 stars to 3 stars.
13 Action News Anchor Dayna Roselli asked her, "So how does it feel for you as a principal?" Petosa says, "I remember getting the news honestly it almost brought tears to my eyes, but it brought tears to my eyes because I was elated for my teachers, I was elated for my teachers because the hard work they put in last year."
Petosa says those teachers are the key to success. "Yeah, it's great that I'm the leader of this building but ultimately it goes back to the people that work in this building day in and day out and the time and effort they put into what they do everyday."
"My assistant principal says whenever you have to hire it's like the NFL draft for you... like you don't mess around, having high quality teachers is in every classroom is my number 1 goal."
Petosa makes sure every teacher in her building wants to be there, and that they want to work hard for the 700 kids in their classrooms.
One of those teachers is Cassandra Strachan. She says, "We are looking at them as... you can be anything you dream of...and so for the first time it was like almost we were pushed to make our teaching that level higher, so we could get the kids to push themselves even higher."
And they did, from 4th to 5th grade, Edwards Elementary saw the greatest growth. They grew 11 percent in English language arts and about 8 percent in math.
So what's made the difference? Teachers say it's all in the school's culture.
Strachan says, "We aren't just staff here we all have the same vision, we all know exactly what we want the kids to be, we know the vocabulary we want them to be using in the classroom. "
Strachan says getting to know each student's likes and dislikes has made a huge difference. It's a strategy that works. "You're not going to read a cookbook if you don't like to cook, so we find out what their passions are, we find out what their interests are, we gear our lessons toward that."
She says they excel because they enjoy what they are doing. Some students may not have an interest in history, but they may want to know more about the Southern Colonies and that's what's working. They dive right in.
So, what can they improve on? Petosa says, "I think I could have done a better job of letting the kids know and like reward the kids, I don't think I did a very good job of that this year."
But, she says the school has clear goals moving forward. She is raising the bar every day, proving these kids can live up to their potential and fulfill their dreams.
If you are a parent and want to know how to help. Fill out those parent surveys! It factors into the school's ranking system. Schools earn bonus points for more than 75 percent participation. You can fill one out by going to ccsd.net/survey, you will need your child's student ID number and DOB.
Another way to support their child's school star rating is with attendance. Schools earn points for students coming to school consistently and arriving on time.