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  • Andrea Foster

2019 Idaho Distinguished Principal

Idaho Assoc. of Elementary School Principals recognize Tim Lowe :: Taft Elementary School, Boise

A month before his official transfer to Taft Elementary in Boise, staff members repeatedly told Principal Tim Lowe, "Taft is crazy" because of student behavior throughout the building. It seemed they almost wore the description like a badge of honor; it was a place they were all surviving.

Based on his previous 15 years as an administrator, Tim decided to immediately and carefully implement Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS). In the 3 years he has been at Taft, the number of discipline referrals have fallen from 305 (right before he arrived there) to 241 after the first year and 129 at the end of the second year.

98% of Taft Elementary's students are low income, and roughly 30% are English language learners -most of them refugees from 19 different countries, speaking 21 different home languages. Given these facts, Principal Lowe has taken a multi-pronged approach to dramatically increase parent involvement and improve the school's learning environment.

Lowe's school regularly hosts parent-student activities and meetings. Various staff attend, and translators are available.

Taft Elementary has partnered with BSU, NNU, two local churches, various business leaders and local volunteers to increase students' exposure to positive role models throughout the school day and to help put on some of the school's bigger events -an annual culture fair, Read Across America Week, etc.

To meet the learning needs of all students, Lowe's staff uses benchmark and diagnostic assessment data to implement appropriate supports. Teachers, Title I and ELL para-educator teams create flexible instruction that target the needs of 6-8 students at a time. Students receive specified intervention or enrichment during both reading and math times for 45 minutes each day. Advanced math courses are available for qualifying fifth and sixth graders each day before the traditional start of school.

Tim Lowe also takes a multi-faceted hand to providing his staff with effective professional development. He has streamlined monthly staff meetings by delegating information-sharing to technological modes of communication. And he has narrowed the focus of his staff's professional development to only two topics, which are selected by his leadership team. This year's efforts are aimed at improving all students' applied math problem-solving skills and addressing the barriers of poverty.

At the same time, Lowe identifies potential leaders on his staff and encourages them to pursue advanced degrees in educational leadership programs. As an adjunct professor in BSU's Education Leadership program, Lowe believes that whether or not an administrative position is the end goal, there is tremendous value in seeing one's school and district through the "bigger picture" lens when it comes to making decisions and implementing large-scale initiatives.

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