Principal Sheri Shirley's transformation of Oakland Heights Elementary School—a Title I school in Russellville, Arkansas—was so remarkable, it was highlighted in a book by Washington Post columnist Karin Chenoweth and in a newsletter of the Education Trust, a Washington, D.C.-based national think tank. Since becoming principal in 2001, Shirley has helped dramatically raise the number of students meeting or exceeding state standards, particularly among minority and low-income students. She has implemented a 90-minute literacy block, acquired a wealth of learning resources for the school, and created a system that involves teachers in data analysis, job-embedded professional development and the study of research-based best practices. Shirley instituted formal assessments at the beginning and end of each year and created an assessment proficiency wall to help students and teachers track progress and determine areas of need in literacy and math. She also organized teachers in vertical teams across grade levels to help avoid gaps in student learning. Formerly a second-grade teacher and the first elementary teacher in the district to become National Board Certified, Shirley has completed Phase II of the Arkansas Leadership Academy's Master Principal Institute. Last year, Shirley created a free dance academy at Oakland Heights, for which she helped acquire a $5,000 grant for leotards, ballet flats and tap shoes. Even the boys got involved, and the end-of-year dance recital was a proud moment for students, parents, teachers, staff and Principal Sheri Shirley.
1988 Arkansas Tech University, B.S.