CULLMAN — East Elementary Principal David Wiggins decided to use an outside-the-box motivational tactic earlier this year to inspire his students for standardized testing week — he told them they could shave his head if one grade scored 100 percent proficiency.
Cullman City Schools Superintendent Dr. Jan Harris announced the Alabama Reading and Mathematics Test Plus (ARMT+) scores Wednesday morning at teacher institute day, and it’s safe to say that Wiggins will have a whole new look in the coming weeks.
The incoming sixth grade class at East scored 100 percent in math, science and reading — meaning every student “passed” every category of the state exam.
“Anybody can buy kids a pizza party, so I came up with Operation Ugly Onion, and went to grades 3-6 to show them the expectations for improvement,” Wiggins said. “I figure, what’s the one thing I can give them most people never will? We could have an assembly for them, or a pizza party, but I think giving them my head of hair and beard I’ve had for 21 years can send a message that I support, and believe in those kids. It seems to have worked.”
Wiggins said he’s excited about his new look, and hitting the high mark is well worth the sacrifice — but he will still have his personal barber on standby to clean up whatever’s left on his head.
East Elementary wasn’t the only school to earn high marks on the ARMT+. Cullman Middle School ranked first in the state, tied with Mountain Brook in some rubrics; and West Elementary had the top scores in some sixth grade rubrics.
The Cullman City Schools system as a whole climbed to second in the state overall, with Mountain Brook holding a slim .9 margin lead. The city school system improved from third place last year, while Arab took third place this year.
“This is a good news story because we have community support, financial security and a total education program for our deserving students,” Harris said. “We’re very proud of our academic achievements, and all schools made AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress). We have a great staff in place, and we are very blessed and thankful.”
‰ Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 220.