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Judson STEAM Academy has earned recognition as a "Texas School to Watch" by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform along with the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals (TASSP).

Judson designated as 'School To Watch'

Wed Feb 3, 2021

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Judson STEAM Academy has earned recognition as a "Texas School to Watch" by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform along with the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals (TASSP).

Dr-Melanie-Pondant"This unique designation is a reflection of our school’s commitment to academic growth and achievement," said Judson Principal Mrs. Melanie Pondant. "I am proud of our teachers and support staff—and of course, our parents—whose collaborative efforts ensure that each and every child has access to a rigorous, high quality, and socially equitable education."

Judson will be honored in March at the Making Middle School Matter Symposium in Austin and will receive national recognition in June at the National Forum Schools to Watch Conference in Washington.

Mrs. Pondant added that the most telling part of the process was "the observance of our school climate where students value the relationships they build with the staff, as well as the staff’s focus on making sure no student falls between the cracks."

"Judson is truly is a place where all students are known by name and need," she said.

Dr-James-Wilcox-2020-MUGSHOTDr. James Wilcox, Superintendent of Schools for Longview, said he was thrilled to hear of the honor, but not surprised.

"Mrs. Pondant has demonstrated professional excellence consistently throughout her career at Longview ISD," he said. "But this honor is also a testament to the high-quality staff she has assembled at Judson, as well as our hard-working teachers, students, and incredibly supportive LISD families."

"Judson STEAM Academy has made great strides in the last several years, and we're excited about what the future holds," Dr. Wilcox added.

The Schools to Watch program was developed in 1999, aiming to identify the middle schools across the country who were displaying academic excellence and a commitment to helping all students achieve

Unlike the Blue-Ribbon recognition program, "Schools to Watch" requires schools to not just identify strengths, but to also focus on areas of continuous improvement; thus, the three-year re-designation.

Mrs. Pondant said Judson submitted an application prior to being evaluated by state teams, which conducted interviews of administrators, teachers, students and parents.

"Schools are selected based on their improvement in academic success, developmental responsiveness, social equity and organizational processes," she said. "They serve as models for other schools that want to improve."

Billy-PringleMr. Billy Pringle, State Director for Schools to Watch in Texas, said officials visited Judson throughout the fall semester, observing classrooms and interviewing the community, after the school completed a rigorous application process.

“Judson has demonstrated that a high-performing middle school is a place that focuses on academic growth and achievement, while also recognizing the importance of meeting the needs of all students and ensures that every child has access to a challenging high-quality education," he said.

Mr. Pringle said that, in addition to its strong campus leadership, Judson has teachers "who work together to improve curriculum and instruction, and a commitment to assessment and accountability to bring about continuous improvement."

The National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform began as an alliance of 65 educators, researchers, national associations, and officers of professional organizations and foundations dedicated to improving education in the middle grades.

Ran-BarnesMr. Ran Barnes, National Forum Board President, said that his organization is pleased that the "Schools to Watch" program has shown that schools can meet high academic expectations while preserving a commitment of healthy development and equity for all students.

"Schools like Judson STEAM Academy have proven that it is possible to overcome barriers in achieving excellence, and any middle-level school in any state can truly learn from their examples," he said. 

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