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Just two weeks after winning an award from Colorado Governor Jared Polis, Pioneer Elementary School (PIES) is excited to be recognized for a national award. PIES has been named a Category 1 National Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Distinguished School.

The recognition is given to Title 1 schools that exhibit exceptional student performance and academic growth. “This is an honor,” Brian Casebeer, Principal of PIES said. “We pledge to continue to get better at ensuring all our students learn at high levels and are welcomed and celebrated every day.”

Casebeer credits this achievement to the school’s focus on Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) and using their federal funding to hire additional reading and math interventionists for consistent, intensive small-group instruction.

“Our interventionists and PLC leaders work side by side with teachers to provide targeted professional development, and work at least half their day directly with students,” he said. “By ensuring our teachers learn and review data, we know our students will receive the best instruction.”

Only two schools from every state are chosen to receive this award. According to the ESEA Network, state Administrators “who manage their state’s federal education program can make their selection based on compliance with federal regulations, and if students living in economically disadvantaged conditions can receive a high-quality education.”

PIES' national recognition made local headlines, earning a feature in the Colorado Springs Gazette. Fifth grade teacher, Samantha Smith told the reporter, "I think we’re doing great things here. We have the opportunity to be an agent of change in kids’ lives, and we take that seriously.” Read the full feature on the Gazette website.