Brent M. Caldwell
Big Horn Elementary School
Sheridan County School District No. 1
Big Horn, Wyoming

Brent Caldwell’s greatest achievement at Big Horn Elementary started with convincing his staff that good test scores didn’t make the school great. He then spearheaded the creation of a professional learning community focused on high achievement by all children, and he ensured that his staff received training in new approaches to teaching and testing. Every employee soon got involved in the efforts to raise achievement. As a result, the number of students scoring at proficient levels in reading, writing, and math improved significantly from 2006 to 2009. Yet Caldwell and his staff “will not be satisfied with less than 100 percent of our students being proficient in all core areas!” he says. Big Horn Elementary’s reading program was recognized as a model by the Wyoming Department of Education in 2008, and the school was honored for its systematic approach to instruction, use of data to guide instruction, research-based interventions, resourcefulness with reading personnel, and improving results. Caldwell also has excelled in promoting teachers’ professional growth. Despite one teacher’s previous poor evaluations and marginal performance, Caldwell recognized she could build on her strengths with his support. She later won a teaching award and earned National Board Certification. Caldwell arrived at his small-town school in 2000. The site currently serves 204 kindergarten through grade 5 students. He earned a B.A. and an M.A. from the University of Colorado at Boulder.