Longview ISD wins nationwide honor for equity work


East Texas Montessori Prep Academy was recognized for its commitment to equity as a first place winner in the 27th annual Magna Awards program.

Longview ISD wins nationwide honor for equity work

Wed Apr 7, 2021


Longview Independent School District is among only 15 in the nation to win a 2021 Magna Award from the National School Boards Association (NSBA) that recognizes districts across the country for programs that advance equity and break down barriers for underserved students.

The East Texas Montessori Prep Academy (ETMPA) was recognized for its commitment to equity as a first place winner in the 27th annual Magna Awards program.

“2020 was a year of challenges for all of us,” said Mrs. Shan Bauer, Longview ISD Board of Trustees President. “Winning top honor for the 2021 Magna Awards attests to the barrier-breaking educational programs Longview ISD’s leaders have put in place. I am beyond proud of the determination of administration and staff for making sure that our public Montessori campus continued to administer proven methods to all students during such trying times. Continuing to ensure such programs offer fair and equitable education to all students within the district is the key to future successes.”

Creating a public Montessori campus allows all students to receive a premier and sought-after education that, normally, has only been made available to those who can afford to pay expensive tuition fees.

Dr-James-Wilcox-2020-MUGSHOTSuperintendent Dr. James Wilcox explained that, while Longview ISD is no longer under the direct federal oversight, the district “will continue to ensure all of Longview’s students have fair and equitable access to our best educational opportunities.”

Wilcox said the voluntary desegregation plan is designed to support the district’s efforts to provide instruction and experiences that integrate students of different backgrounds together, remedy the separation of minority students in one or more schools within the district; prevent, reduce, and eliminate social, racial, ethnic, or economic isolation; ensure equal educational opportunity and access for all students; and cultivate student integration and diversity.

Sponsored by NSBA’s flagship magazine American School Board Journal, the Magna Awards, honors school board best practices and innovative programs that advance student learning. The program has a long history of recognizing school district innovation and creativity in helping increase student achievement.

“2020 was a year like no other,” said NSBA Executive Director and CEO Anna Maria Chávez. “The 2021 Magna Award-winning districts represent the enormous efforts of school leaders during the pandemic to continue removing barriers to achievement for their underserved and vulnerable students.”

After the lifting of a 1970 federal desegregation order in 2018, Longview ISD developed a plan to ensure equitable access to education opportunities. During an August 2018 meeting, the board of trustees unanimously voted to adopt a Voluntary Desegregation Plan for magnet school programs. In response to a strong community desire, the board focused magnet school expansion on four areas: STEAM, International Baccalaureate, Early College High School, and expansion of Montessori Education.

Longview ISD has used the Montessori style for early childhood students for more than 15 years. In 2019, the board voted to move the one remaining traditional campus to Montessori, taking the program districtwide.

“Montessori at LISD is different from the typical Montessori school because we are within a public school setting, said Dr. Jacqueline Burnett, director of East Texas Montessori Prep Academy. “We serve a diverse population, both racially and economically disadvantaged, free of charge.”

In the Montessori Method, students learn via a natural process that develops spontaneously. It educates with experiences every child has in reaction to the surrounding environment. Teachers arrange for cultural activity and interaction in a learning atmosphere tailored for each child.

In 2019, Longview received 40 state distinctions, proving that district teachers and the Montessori education platform are making a difference in those who are moving into the testing grades.

In 2018, the board approved the use of districtwide the Iowa Test of Basic Skills to track gaps and growth of students. The scores also are used to identify students for the district’s Gifted and Talented (GT) program and acceptance into the award-winning Hudson PEP Elementary, which is an academically accelerated campus. This allows for more students to qualify for Hudson PEP and GT than may have been previously considered because of economic stereotyping or behavior status. Testing results were the highest in 10 years for minority students and economically disadvantaged students. This shows that Montessori education is positively affecting early childhood students.