Three Schools Named 22-23 Tennessee Reward Schools

Three District Schools Named 2022-23 Tennessee Reward Schools
Posted on 02/21/2024
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Weakley County Schools proudly announces that three district schools – Dresden Elementary, Dresden Middle, and Martin Middle – have achieved the prestigious status of Tennessee Reward Schools, as recognized by the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE). Based on data from the 2022-23 academic year, these schools have earned this distinction through outstanding performance according to the State’s rigorous scoring matrix.

Additionally, Weakley County Schools has been designated as an “Advancing” school district, reflecting the district's overall high performance. This designation, the second-highest achievement on the state’s accountability model, considers various metrics to highlight district-wide excellence.

TDOE Reward Schools rank in the top tier of the State’s comprehensive scoring formula, which includes factors such as TCAP achievement numbers, growth, chronic absence rates, graduation rates, and English language learner proficiency. Traditionally, schools in the State who have performed in the top 5% in achievement or growth on standardized tests are identified as Tennessee Reward Schools. They receive the distinction after demonstrating exceptional levels of performance and/or improvement by meeting annual measurable objectives across various performance indicators and student groups.

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Principal Melanie Needham expressed her pride that Dresden Elementary is celebrating yet another achievement in academic distinction.

“Dresden Elementary has so much to celebrate this year,” Needham emphasized. “On the heels of national recognition as an ESEA Distinguished School, earning Tennessee Reward School status for two years in a row is quite an accomplishment. Achievements in education don’t happen by accident. It is a result of the hard work of our students, teachers, staff, and supportive families. We are beyond proud of the progress we've made and remain committed to providing a supportive learning environment where every child can thrive.”

David Lewellen, Principal of Dresden Middle School, echoed the sentiment, saying, "We are honored to be named a TDOE Reward School. Our school has dedicated faculty and staff who never stop supporting students so they can reach their potential. With every teacher working toward the common goal of being our best for students every single day, we set them up for success. It’s a huge achievement for all of us - students, educators, parents, administrators, and our community,” said Lewellen.

Martin Middle School Principal John Lifsey shared his excitement, stating, "At Martin Middle School, our belief in the potential of every student isn't just a motto, it's the heartbeat of our school. Being recognized as a Reward School reaffirms our collective purpose of helping every student succeed. We stand tall, not just proud, but truly humbled by what we've achieved as students, faculty, staff, families, and the community. As we look ahead, we do so with excitement and anticipation, knowing that our journey of excellence is far from over,” said Lifsey.

Director of Schools Jeff Cupples said that these achievements reflect the upwards trajectory of the district.

“From my position, witnessing the remarkable achievements of these schools fills my heart with gratitude. Earning the designation as Tennessee Reward Schools is hard work, heart and soul poured into every classroom, every lesson, and every interaction. It's a reflection of the dedication of our students, educators, and every single member of our staff – from the lunchroom to the classroom. This is what can happen when we all come together as a community in support of public education,” Cupples said.

To see more about Tennessee Reward Schools and district designations, visit

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