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Ardith M. Bates
Gladden Middle School
Murray County School System
Chatsworth, Georgia

Innovative approaches to increasing student achievement, staff leadership, and parent and community involvement are among Principal Ardith M. Bates’ primary contri-butions to Gladden Middle School.  Under her leadership since 2009, the 560-stu-dent, grade seven and eight school has seen leaps in benchmark test scores, earning it more than twenty awards including a 2011 Title I Distinguished School, a 2010 Breakthrough School, and a 2013 regional Best Practice Award for Community Involvement.  Comprehensive data analysis and planning by content and academic teams, a Curriculum Facilitator and the administration is central to the collaborative culture Bates has instituted at Gladden.  Student achievement is additionally sup-ported through before and after school tutoring, literacy and assessment software, and academic pep rallies.  Bates has also integrated systems for developing staff leadership skills and regularly celebrating their accomplishments.  Staff-led faculty meetings, a School Leadership Team, department “brag sessions,” and regular shout-outs on the principal’s daily memo ensure staff feel appreciated.  Recognizing the power of positive public relations, Bates also employs a range of innovative practices such as the annual State of the School Address, media articles and photos, text messaging, and a parent portal.  Colleagues call Bates “exemplary,” and one parent says, “Her caring actions and kind words of encouragement will always be remembered by us.”  Bates’ credentials include an A.A. in Elementary Education from Dalton State College, a B.S. Ed. in Educational Psychology from the University of Georgia, an M.Ed. in School Counseling and in Middle Grades Education from the State University of West Georgia, and an Ed. D. in Instructional Leadership from the University of Alabama.