Eura Brown receives top honors

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By Lindsey Frazier, Editorial Assistant

Eura Brown Elementary School in Gadsden was recently recognized as a top 25 preforming school in Alabama.
In 2012, the Alabama legislature enacted the Legislative School Performance Program that required the Alabama Superintendent of Education to develop a school grading system that reflects the performance of public-school students in Alabama. Now, each school and district receive an annual report card from the state. For the last two years, those schools at the top of the list, like Eura Brown, have received special recognition.
“The biggest contribution to scoring in the top 25 is the collective community of Eura Brown and everyone prioritizing high quality instruction and student needs,” Eura Brown Principal Katie Holland said. “When I say collective community, I’m referring to highly effective teachers that devote so much of their time and effort to every individual student need. I’m also referring to the parents that partner with us and they prioritize the school day, and they prioritize being a teammate of the school and being a teammate of the teachers, and any of the community supporters. Whether that is our school board members, our city council members, people that help when we have a need that we can go to.”
According to the National Center for Education Statistics at the Alabama Department of Education, Eura Brown’s overall test ranking is in the top five percent in Alabama, with a math proficiency of 60-64 percent (24 percent above state average) and a reading proficiency of 80-84 percent (46 percent above state average).
“I’m a believer that the teacher is the single most effective instructional tool in the classroom,” Holland said. “You can have any program, any amount of technology, but you have to have a teacher that is highly qualified, highly effective and is willing to do whatever it takes to make sure her students preform and make sure she meets their needs.”
Holland believes support of the teachers is essential to the success of a school. Noting that when the teachers feel supported and encouraged, they are willing to go the extra mile.
“If they come to me and they are like, ‘hey I have this need,’ then I want to do everything I can to support their need, because they’re coming to me with a need for their students, and if you support your teachers, you’re supporting your students,” Holland said.
This past year, Eura Brown was one of only four schools to receive a score of 100, down from 12 schools in the 2018-19 school year. It is a slight improvement from the school’s previous score of 99.
“We are extremely proud of that,” Holland said. “That was a unique honor and a really fantastic showcase of what our students can do.”
Since 2020, the top 25 schools received funding. This year, the amount was $2,000 as opposed to the $5,000 in recent years. These funds total in $250,000 that the Alabama State Department of Education awards annually to schools showing academic excellence or significant improvement.
The funds EBES receives will be put toward the improvement of the school’s campus that was built in the 1950’s.
“I want to do things that are going to contribute to the overall longevity of the school, so it continues to be such a great focal point of the community,” Holland said.
Eura Brown has been recognized as an extraordinary school in recent years, being a two-time Blue Ribbon Award winner. The Blue Ribbon Award is a national award given to schools nominated by the Chief State School Officer of Alabama and can only be nominated once within a five-year period. To be nominated the school must have the highest achieving students (the top 15 percent) in English and mathematics. In 2016, the school was granted Blue Ribbon status for achieving superior standards of academic excellence. To date, there are only 74 blue ribbon public schools in Alabama.
“When you’ve got such a fantastic group of teachers, and parents and community members that really rally behind the students then you get great results,” Holland said. “But it takes everybody putting a priority on the students and what their needs are here at school.”
However, the recognition is more than academics. According to the National Blue Ribbon website the award is given to schools whose “leaders not only articulate a vision of excellence and hold everyone to high standards, they stay close to the real action of teaching and learning.”
Holland has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education from Jacksonville State University and a Masters in Instructional Leadership from the University of Alabama. She has been the principal at Eura Brown since 2017 and previously taught at Mitchell Elementary and Ashville Middle School. She hopes that this recognition will not only benefit Eura Brown but the entire community of Gadsden.
“I hope our community sees that when you pour into the school, the students benefit from that,” Holland said. “I hope that this will encourage our community as a whole to continue doing that and to continue supporting their schools, because this is what happens when you have that investment into your children.”

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