The school district recently learned it's the recipient of the Commissioner of Education's Award of Excellence for Professional Development.
"We have our challenges, and those are sometimes highlighted so it's so nice to have something so prestigious bestowed upon us," said Dr. Larry Bohannon, R-6 assistant superintendent of professional development and secondary education.
Cheri Fuemmeler, director of Southeast Missouri Regional Professional Development Center in Cape Girardeau, said the award is a very significant one for the district, and parents should be extremely proud.
"Sikeston has worked diligently in addressing the needs of the students in the region. ... Its professional development appears to be seamless in the community," said Fuemmeler, adding she's very excited for the district.
Only four other districts in the state received the award with the closest recipient being Farmington R-7.
"To me, the importance of this award to the district and the community is we have some highly qualified teachers in this district, and the state has recognized it," Bohannon said. "We're doing some high quality instruction."
The district and its educators underwent an extensive process to even be considered for the award.
First the district had to apply for the award, and then personnel from the Missouri Staff Development Council decided if they wanted to conduct an on-
site review of the district, Bohannon recalled.
Sikeston was selected for a review in November, and a daylong on-site review was conducted in January with a review team visiting every building in the district.
The review team, which consisted of MSDC personnel and educators from around the state, looked through district files and interviewed various teachers and a school board member.
"Everything Sikeston has done is targeted at student achievement through a very systematic approach of professional development," Fuemmeler said.
In nominating Sikeston R-6 for the award, the review team cited details that make Sikeston's professional development program unique to other school district's throughout the state. One of the major reasons for selection was the district joining the Mid-continent Regional Educational Laboratory project, which focuses on instruction and building background knowledge to close the achievement gap.
"While this project was directed at secondary, the district was able to implement it from birth to 12th grades," the review team said.
In addition, substantial work in the R-6 district has been done over the past five years in benchmark assessment tests, which are given to students about every six weeks, the review team noted. Instructional coaches and parent liaisons were also added to deepen the focus of instruction.
"We're a community like many others that has its challenges, but I think this should tell our community, the surrounding communities and all those businesses out there that they need to look at what they can get from the education community in Southeast Missouri," Bohannon said.
As a recipient of the award, the district will receive $2,500 to enhance its professional development efforts in the district. Members of Sikeston's professional development committee will also present the district's PD plan at a state conference on March 19.
Bohannon praised the teachers for the district's success.
"I called the PD committee my cheerleaders because they always are willing to go out and cheer on the rest of the teachers and the initiatives that we're trying to implement," Bohannon said.
He continued: "I don't know what I would do without them, and I don't know how to thank them for the support -- but I sure hope this Commissioner's award helps show the support."
Sikeston's work is very commendable, Fuemmeler said.
"But they can't stop here," Fuemmeler said. "... They should continue to move forward because they're making great gains."
Bohannon advised students, parents and members of the community to thank an R-6 teacher for their efforts in enabling the district to obtain this award. He said: "If you see a teacher, say, 'Way to go.'"