On the Rise

Principal takes Smoke Rise to New Heights

Smoke Rise Principal Pamela McCloud.Principal Pamela McCloud’s office door is open. This is not unusual for her.

“She has an open-door policy not only to us, but to anybody that wants to come through that door,” says Ms. Caroline Croom, sitting across from Mrs. McCloud. “You could have made an appointment this morning…she would have told you ‘Oh, come on, come in.’”

Open communication has been an important part of Mrs. McCloud’s tenure as principal of Smoke Rise Elementary School since 2014. Regular meetings with parents ensure that they understand the standards students are being taught and that they have access to resources to help their children succeed. Programs like ClassDojo allow for quick messaging between Smoke Rise and the community, and while many schools have a policy of teachers responding to parents within 48 hours, Principal McCloud is not satisfied with that.

“Here we get back within 24 [hours],” she says. “That way we can be very responsive.”

This kind of commitment requires an incredible buy-in from teachers.

“Our teachers every day—I mean, God bless them—come in and they do not hesitate. They hit the ground running from when the kids walk in the building to the time they leave,” Principal McCloud says. “Teachers are engaged, and we’ve been very strategic with our resources.” Such strategies include bringing in tutors during the day to engage with students in the classroom, which Smoke Rise has found very successful.

Principal McCloud emphasizes the importance of studying data in education. It was a careful data review that made her realize how all students, whether they be struggling or gifted, need help to reach their full potential.

“We understood then, and we knew we needed to put a process in place to cover all our students and all our student needs,” says Principal McCloud. As a result of changing their process, Smoke Rise Elementary saw another big change in the form of their College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) score.

Smoke Rise Elementary, Tucker, GA.The CCRPI is a 100-point scale tool to measure how well schools are preparing students for the next level in their education. Elementary schools in Georgia are required to reach at least 60 points, but the state averages 79.9 points. Smoke Rise’s score skyrocketed from 58.2 in 2014 to 89.2 as of 2019, an increase of 31 points in a five-year period.

“We’re steadily looking at ways for improvement, to make gains,” Principal McCloud says. “Our goal is now 100 [points].”

With so many strides taken in such a short time, it’s no wonder that Smoke Rise Elementary was named a 2021 Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Distinguished School, and Pamela McCloud herself named the Region II Principal of the Year for 2022. Not only have they received these accolades, but Smoke Rise has also achieved 2021 Cognia STEM certification.

When Principal McCloud and Ms. Croon last attended the ESEA conference and received the award, they brought back a wealth of knowledge they were excited to implement at Smoke Rise Elementary School. This year, they are sharing information that they hope helps other schools reach their goals.

“The name of our presentation is ‘Dare to Be Distinguished: Student Growth and Achievement,’” Principal McCloud says. “We are going to be presenting how we got to that point, about helping our students to grow and teachers to understand effective teaching and learning.”

Tucker Social

Loading social feed...