GEORGE WEST – While some school districts might make it look easy with continual success, make no mistake – hard work and dedication goes into earning A ratings for school districts and campuses.
George West Junior High recently took that success one step further, earning a perfect seven out of seven possible distinctions to take its place as one of the best campuses in Texas.
Helping to lead this parade of achievement is GWJHS Principal Ashley Lowe, who is in her seventh year at the school.
“Ashley is one of the most dynamic people I know, and her culture of professionalism and parent-community connections is awesome,” said Dr. Roland Quezada, director of educational services for George West Independent School District.
“The campus really has a strong culture of mutual respect and love of the kids and that certainly shows on the academic side. There is a lot of hard work and community support that goes into the mix. It’s no wonder that a campus like the junior high is rated an A on the accountability system.”
With scoring a perfect seven out of seven academic distinctions is the icing on the cake.
“In two categories, the junior high was rated number one in the state in their comparison group,” Quezada said. “That’s fantastic.
“We cannot say enough about Ms. Lowe’s leadership on that campus.”
Before coming to George West, Lowe worked for the Calallen school district. Her husband worked for Nu Star Energy and spent time in George West, and that helped open the door for Lowe to begin working in the community.
“He got to know a lot of people in the community and I was introduced to them through him,” Lowe said. “We attended several school events and I met Ty (Sparks, the former GWISD superintendent) and Robin Sellman (the former director of educational services) and an opportunity opened up. Everything worked out.”
Lowe credits her coworkers and mentors, such as high school Principal Richard Waterhouse, for helping her feel comfortable in the community.
From there, she’s helped to lead the junior high to a continual string of success. This isn’t the first time George West Junior High earned a perfect seven of seven distinctions. The school also achieved that feat in 2017.
Those seven academic distinctions come in the following areas:
• English/language arts and reading
• Social studies
• Top 25 percent statewide for academic group (GWJH actually was No. 1 among its companion group in this area)
• Top 25 percent statewide in closing the gap between the student population as a whole and disadvantaged or at-risk student populations (GWJH was again No. 1 statewide among its companion group in this area)
• Post-secondary readiness
While the distinctions are a feather in the cap of the school and the district, Lowe said she appreciates the district and school’s academic rating, as well.
“We received an A rating overall, and we’re very, very happy with that,” she said.
What has enabled the school to achieve such success?
“At the junior high we have a great collaboration and a very positive environment,” Lowe said. “The teachers work very well together. We have built a great relationship as a team and it’s helped to drive and promote success. It’s a great atmosphere for the kids to be successful in.”
The success is a result of expectations as well as the effort to make it happen.
“It’s been great,” Lowe said. “You have to recognize the students’ and the teachers’ hard work.”
Beyond the classroom, there are a lot of factors that help make high achievement possible, Lowe noted.
“It’s not just inside the building,” she said. “A lot of work is done by staff to make sure the school is clean and safe, and also by the cafeteria workers in the area of nutrition.
“A lot goes into the kids being successful. It takes teamwork and we are all working together so that the kids can have the resources and reinforcement they need.”
The belief that success is achievable is also a factor in continued success, Lowe said.
“The community expects it, the parents, administrators and teachers,” she said. “When the kids see everybody has such high standards, it gives them something to reach for and it encourages them to be successful.
“This is a huge example of what kids can achieve when all the factors are in place for their success.”
Lowe said she is glad her career led her to George West.
“Anybody who comes here knows what a great place George West is,” she said. “That’s why I’ve loved working here and continue to work here.
“I absolutely love working with the teachers and students here. They are amazing people. I am very fortunate to work with such a great staff. They deserve recognition for all the hard work they’ve put in and I’m very proud of them. We really do have great people here.”
Jeff Osborne is the editor of The Progress. He can be reached at 361-786-3022 or firstname.lastname@example.org.