KANSAS CITY, Mo.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Hannah Lofthus, founding principal and Chief Executive Officer of the Ewing Marion Kauffman School in Kansas City, MO, was named a recipient of the Ryan Award for exceptional leadership in closing the achievement gap in urban K-12 schools. The prestigious award includes a $25,000 honorarium and the opportunity to teach her successful approach at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
Pat Ryan, Jr., founder of the Accelerate Institute which sponsors the award, presented Lofthus with a plaque and a check in a surprise school assembly. “We created the Ryan Awards four years ago to recognize the leaders of the most successful transformational schools in the country,” Ryan said. “We want to not only honor these individuals, but enlist them as role models to help current and future principals learn from their successes. Hannah Lofthus is the embodiment of excellent school leadership.”
The Ryan Awards are distributed through the Chicago-based Accelerate Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to the development of high-impact urban school leaders who accelerate student achievement.
Lofthus was called to a high school assembly that was actually a ruse to surprise her with the announcement. Lofthus said, “I am honored to receive this and so proud that my founding class of 5th grade students was here with me. They have pushed me to be the best leader I can be since we started together five years ago. Every day they demonstrate what is possible for students in Kansas City.”
Lofthus opened the Kauffman School in 2011 and established a mission of creating college graduates. It has grown to include two middle schools and a high school. Next year, the Kauffman School will serve nearly 900 students in grades 5 through 10. The school accepts students by lottery, prioritizing students that live in the six highest-need zip codes in the district; 87 percent of Kauffman School students qualify for free or reduced lunch.
Students who attend the Kauffman School show significant learning gains. A third of students in the founding class were proficient on Missouri state assessments before starting in 5th grade. After four years, the founding class performed in the 93rd percentile in English Language Arts, the 96th percentile in science, and the 99th percentile in math. The first year that the state administered Common Core aligned exams, every Kauffman School class and subject increased the percentage of students proficient and advanced on the test, and nearly every class and subject met or exceeded the state proficiency rate. The Kauffman School was named the 2015 Missouri Charter School of the Year.
Lofthus is a nationally-recognized talent developer, and leads her team of more than 80 educators to meet ambitious goals by engaging in daily observations, weekly coaching sessions and weekly whole-staff professional development. She trains leaders across the country through Relay Graduate School of Education’s Leverage Leadership Institute and the National Principals Academy Fellowship. Her outreach helps spread the success of Kauffman School students, as well as the movement for education reform in Kansas City.
Lofthus is the second Ryan Award winner in 2016. Winners are nominated by education leaders across the country. Nominees must be K-12 principals for at least four years with a measurable record of consecutive student achievement growth. This fourth class of Ryan Awardees will be celebrated at the Accelerate Institute’s annual Impact Dinner later this year in Chicago.
The Accelerate Institute is dedicated to ensuring all children have the opportunity to achieve to their fullest potential. It identifies high performing, results-focused school leadership with a passion for closing the achievement gap in urban education. For further information on the Ryan Awards and the Accelerate Institute, visit: http://www.accelerateinstitute.org/programs/ryan-fellowship/ryan-award-nomination