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Harlan Elementary School recognized as a CLAS Banner School

Admin holds up the CLAS Banner

PRATTVILLE, Ala. — The Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools (CLAS) has recognized Harlan Elementary School as a CLAS Banner School for its Vertical Writing Stack Audit initiative.

A Tuesday morning release stated that CLAS recognized 32 Schools of Distinction across the eight State School Board Districts and announced the 2023 CLAS Banner Schools during an awards luncheon in Prattville. 

According to CLAS, the Banner School program was created in 2001 to recognize schools in Alabama that showcase outstanding programs and services to students. Each school was nominated for the award by its superintendent, with 240 schools nominated statewide.

Harlan Principal Dr. Thomas Casteel said the Vertical Writing Stack Audit program began two years ago to improve students’ writing.

“It was something that we wanted to allow our teachers to focus on the writing process and collaborate by looking at data to make improvements,” Casteel said.

Harlan Reading Specialist Crystal Delano said collaboration is key to the program’s success.

“Our teachers have been really cooperative, and it’s really produced some high-quality writing because teachers are looking at the writing standards, and they’re making sure that their students are writing on grade level,” Delano said.

The feedback from teachers has also been positive.

“Being a third-grade teacher, it helps me see where kids from kindergarten, first, and second grade are at in their process, which helps me better prepare for how to teach them in third grade, bridging that gap between second and third,” Teacher Ginger Vanhorn said. “It also helps us to see where the kids need to go in fourth grade.”

Superintendent Dr. Jimmy Shaw said this is Harlan’s second Banner School designation in four years representing District 7.

By Jeremy Jackson
May 7, 2024