Prince Edward Eagles welcomed back at Open House

Published 10:18 am Thursday, August 10, 2023

By Connor Thompson 

The Farmville Herald 

Eagles need to be in the classroom every day. That was the message delivered by Prince Edward Elementary Principal Teresa Vance as she welcomed in students and parents for Open House on Thursday, Aug. 3. Students had a chance to explore their classrooms and meet teachers before the first day of classes, which started this week. 

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Parents could also learn about the school’s recent Exemplar Award, given out by the state. Prince Edward Elementary became one of only 93 schools in the Commonwealth to receive a Continuous Improvement Exemplar Award. 

To be eligible for the Exemplar Award, a school has to show growth. Not for one month or one year. It has to be continued growth and development over a three year span. Specifically, for elementary schools, scores in math and reading have to go up, with a total increase of ten points or more. Now elementary schools are only measured in math and reading, since the science test isn’t given until the fifth grade. This year’s award also removed the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years, due to the fact many districts didn’t keep track of those statistics early in the pandemic. 

Prince Edward Eagles

Teachers at Prince Edward Elementary greet students and parents at the Open House session. (Photo by Connor Thompson)

The data shows Prince Edward Elementary met or exceeded all of the state standards for English and math. The school also closed achievement gaps in both subjects, improving beyond state standards.

“I’ve worked here for 23 years and there are so many wonderful things about our school that doesn’t get the recognition I think they should,” said art teacher Joy Utzinger. A former Region VIII Teacher of the Year, Utzinger points to improvements all over the school. 

All student groups at Prince Edward Elementary are improving. The growth is happening on all grade levels as well.

This past year marked the first time since before 2018 that the elementary school exceeded state standards in English. And to be clear, it was a pretty significant jump. In 2018, 72% of students passed or showed significant improvement in English. That number fell to 64% in 2019, the last time the pass rates were recorded. This time around, 83% of Prince Edward Elementary students hit that mark, almost 10% higher than the state standard of 75%.

An estimated 88% of students at the school either passed both their math and science tests or showed significant improvement. Last year was the fourth straight year of growth in both areas and the third year of achievement above 80%.

But there is one catch. 

“I need our Eagles here to make that happen,” Vance said. “We need our students in the classroom every day.”

Chronic absenteeism is an area that’s really hurt the school in the past. Vance recognizes that and is hoping for parents and the whole community to help address that.