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Northwood Elementary School Improves
from a "C" to an "A"

Commissioner Horne, Superintendent Gaetz and Rep. Greg Evers join Northwood Elementary students for group photo

Northwood Elementary School, the home of the Cougars, has a lot to roar about. The school improved its grade this year from a C to an A. Education Commissioner Jim Horne, joined by several members of the State Legislature, visited Northwood Elementary to recognize the school's improvement and to present a check for $50,880.

Superintendent Don Gaetz is very proud of Northwood Elementary School. It was one of the two schools in Okaloosa County that earned a C last year, and it was a priority of his to make sure that Northwood improved its score. Superintendent Gaetz invited principals from other Okaloosa County schools and school board members to gather at Northwood to celebrate the success of the school and district.

Northwood's Principal Jacqueline Craig attributes their success to the time they spent analyzing data, small group instruction, and parental involvement. After analyzing the data, they placed emphasis on personalized and individualized instruction in the classroom.

For students in grades 3-5, one of the tactics the school uses is parallel scheduling, where a class is divided in half for part of the day. One half of the class stays with the teacher, and the other half goes to the computer lab to work with programs specifically geared to their performance level. This tactic enables students to get small group instruction in reading. They spend 90 minutes on reading each school day.

FCAT Parent Nights were also held to explain to parents and guardians what their students would be tested on and how they can help.

Northwood Elementary School, with 60 percent of its students on free and reduced lunch, has proven that effective teaching, high standards, and increased parental involvement in education can turn a C school into an A school. This year, 94 percent of the schools in Okaloosa County were A schools. These schools received more than $2.6 million in recognition funds.

For more information on Northwood Elementary, visit