POUND, Va. - J.W. Adams Combined School in Pound, Virginia is the first school in Wise County to ever win the National Title I Distinguished School Award.
"We are very thankful for the award," principal Rick Bolling says. "It represents our students, they're the ones that earned it."
Only 100 schools in the country are given the honor each year (two from each state), and J.W. Adams was recognized for closing the achievement gap between student groups. About 16 percent of the roughly 480 students at the school have some sort of disability. In the 2012-2013 school year, the achievement gap in reading between that subgroup and the rest of the student body was 43 percent.
"In 2016-2017, that narrowed down to 2.5 percent," Bolling says.
That same formula teachers used in reading is also adding up to academic success in math. In that same time frame, the school cut a 42 percent gap down to 5.7-percent.
"We meet with our special education teachers," Fran Balthis, the school's lead teacher, says. "We have really thrown a lot of resources at them and they have responded."
School leaders say the hands on learning experience they provide is part of the reason the scores have skyrocketed.
"We make sure those kids get that topic," third grade teacher Alyssa Phillips says. "It doesn't matter how hard we have to work. We will come together and get that kid where they need to be."
Phillips says there is a family-like atmosphere between the students and teachers, and the kids say that gives them confidence to succeed in the next stage of their lives.
"I feel like I can do anything," Morgan Shortt, an 8th grade student at J.W. Adams, says. "I feel like I could be a doctor if I wanted to or a scientist."
"Teachers make it fun," Oakley Stanley, a 6th grade student, says. "It's a fantastic school I come here every day and I love it."
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