Goodyear school wins NIET Founder’s Award

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Goodyear Arizona’s Desert Thunder School was surprised with the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching’s Founder’s Award at the NIET annual national conference in Indianapolis. The school was just one of five finalists nationwide and was selected to win the $50,000 grand prize for its excellence in fostering educator excellence and student success.

Created by Lowell Milken in 2008, the Founder’s Award honors one school in the United States each year for exceptional implementation of NIET’s principles: to build educator excellence and advance student success. Desert Thunder School was just one of five schools across the country selected as finalists for the $50,000 grand prize. Founder’s Award recipients are selected based on several factors, including their efforts to make instructional excellence the cornerstone of school improvement, plans for regular professional learning focused on real-time needs of teachers and students, creating a culture of collaboration and reflection, and leveraging teacher leaders to drive student growth.

We welcome Josh Barnett, CEO of the NIET and Dr. Betsy Hargrove, AESD Superintendent, to Arizona Horizon to discuss the award.

What is the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching?

“We’re an organization that really focuses on a mission to build educator excellence, that’s a pathway to create opportunities for all students. Ultimately what we believe is sustained, intentional, high quality investments in educators is really the solution to create opportunities for all students,” said Barnett.

Were you surprised to win the award?

“Surprised, absolutely. As were sitting and listening to the founder, Lowell Milken, talk about the award and talk about the recipient,” Hargrove explained that everyone was quite surprised that it was them announced.

What was said when you realized you won?

“Talking about the team that’s there, talking about how they come together over years, and the ongoing that has happened in our district as Lowell was speaking we’re leaning a little bit further and he names Desert Thunder and it’s just an eruption of emotion,” said Hargrove.

Josh Barnett, Dr. Betsy Hargrove

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