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Magazine commends Newhall school

Parenting, a national publication, acknowledges school in article focused on ensuring the best educa

Posted: August 18, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 18, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Principal Larry Heath, left, chats with third-grade teachers Kari Madison, and Angela Melizan, right, at McGrath Elementary School in Newhall on Friday.

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McGrath Elementary has earned its share of decorations since opening in 2003, and now the Newhall school can add another honor to its list of achievements. Parenting magazine, a national monthly publication with in-depth information on raising children, featured McGrath in an article about high-achieving schools.

When journalists from Parenting approached McGrath Elementary Principal Larry Heath, they were working on a story about finding the best schools in America.

The article instead focuses on key ideas, practices and philosophies related to childhood education and features Heath as an authority on how parents can make sure their children are receiving the best education.

In 2011, the U.S. Department of Education named McGrath a Blue Ribbon School, a rare distinction for public schools, and even more notable considering more than 53 percent of the students are English-language learners and about three-fourths come from low-income homes.

One of the reasons why the school wins so many awards, despite its challenges, is the faculty, Heath said.

“The recognition is great, but it’s a recognition of the classroom teachers at McGrath,” Heath said. “They’re the people that come in early and stay late.

“I don’t know of a teacher (at McGrath) who doesn’t always have their students on their minds,” Heath said.

Superintendent Marc Winger agrees with Heath’s assessment, saying that staff has a lot to do with the students’ success.

“They are just laser-focused on every one of those kids and they just believe that every one of them can achieve our standards,” Winger said.

Part of McGrath’s teaching philosophy is that all children have a lot of potential, Heath said. At McGrath, teachers set high expectations for their students and work them hard; including 200 children who spend an extra 15 hours at school each week and an extra 20 days in class.

Most of the 200 children are English learners, Heath said. Having to learn an entirely new language is a disadvantage for the students, which means they need to work harder and longer to be successful.

“It’s an obstacle you have to overcome,” Heath said of learning English. “The only way to overcome those obstacles is working harder and longer.”

A link to the article can be found through The-Signal.com or on newsstands this week.

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