One giant stride for Whale Branch Middle

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From left: Lowell Milken (founder of the Milken Family Foundation); S.C. State Superintendent of Education Mick Zais; S.C. TAP Coordinator Dennis Dotterer; Matt Hall, a TAP mentor teacher at Whale Branch Middle; Beaufort County Superintendent Valerie Truesdale; Whale Branch Middle School Principal Matt Hunt; and Gary Stark (President and CEO of the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching).

By Tess Malijenovsky
Last Friday Whale Branch Middle School was surprised in front of more than 1,000 educators and policy leaders in Los Angeles at the 12th National TAP: The System for Teacher and Student Advancement Conference with the prestigious $50,000 TAP Founder’s Award.
Every year a school is rewarded with The TAP Founder’s Award for its distinction in implementing the TAP system. TAP is essentially a “comprehensive school reform that restructures and revitalizes

From left: Lowell Milken (founder of the Milken Family Foundation); S.C. State Superintendent of Education Mick Zais; S.C. TAP Coordinator Dennis Dotterer; Matt Hall, a TAP mentor teacher at Whale Branch Middle; Beaufort County Superintendent Valerie Truesdale; Whale Branch Middle School Principal Matt Hunt; and Gary Stark (President and CEO of the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching).

the teaching profession by providing teachers with powerful opportunities for career advancement, ongoing professional development, a fair evaluation system and performance-based compensation.” Lowell Milken, founder of TAP, presented the award to Principal Matthew Hunt and other faculty on his TAP Leadership Team.
This honor is one giant stride for Whale Branch Middle School, a school that in 2004 was labeled by the state as “at-risk,” and according to Beaufort County School District Superintendent Dr. Valerie Truesdale produced the highest percentage of dropouts in the county. The school started using the program three years ago.
“Our school has gone from an ‘at-risk’ absolute rating to an ‘average’ absolute rating,” said Hunt, “which is astronomical in terms of the amount of change, growth and student achievement that we’ve seen.”

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