WASHINGTON—Edward Wiest, a math teacher at Plenty Coups High School on the Crow Reservation in Pryor, Mont., was honored as a "School Turnaround Champion of Change" at a White House event Tuesday because of his school improvement efforts.
The White House recognized 12 teachers, union leaders, administrators, parents and others who helped implement dramatic changes in some of the country's lowest-performing schools to improve student outcomes and close achievement gaps.
Wiest, an AFT member and a teacher for 29 years who has taught for the last 13 years on the Crow Reservation, is a member of the school improvement labor-management team and chairs the local Montana Behavioral Initiative Committee. Plenty Coups High School is one of three high schools enrolled in Montana's Schools of Promise Initiative, a three-year, $11.5 million project aimed at turning around the state's persistently lowest-performing schools. Plenty Coups' math and reading scores have soared with instructional changes and access to wraparound services like healthcare and other programs for students and families.
"The teachers and administrators decided to get on the same page and collaborate. Our kids are poor, but we set high expectations for them and put best practices behind those expectations, and our kids are achieving. We also started making home visits so parents' voices were being heard, and we let students make decisions in the classroom," Wiest said.
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said: "As Ed and Plenty Coups High School can attest, when teachers and administrators collaborate and implement programs to help kids overcome very difficult out-of-school factors, kids have a much better opportunity to excel."
"Ed is a fantastic teacher, who would be humbled by this award but is quite deserving of it," said Scott McCulloch, a field consultant with MEA-MFT, Wiest's state teachers union.