SPARK Academy at Cowart Elementary selected as the CLAS Banner School for District 8

SPARK Leaders ATHENS, Alabama, February 26, 2019 --- SPARK Academy at Cowart Elementary was named as the 2018 CLAS Banner School for State School Board District 8 by the Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools (CLAS). This award recognizes schools that serve as outstanding educational models for other schools in Alabama.


The CLAS Banner School award is the highest district honor granted by CLAS. The Banner School is selected from the CLAS Schools of Distinction. Bob Jones High School in Madison City Schools and John S. Jones Elementary School in Etowah County Schools were also recognized as CLAS Schools of Distinction. One hundred and sixty schools were nominated for this prestigious recognition.

These exemplary schools were celebrated at a luncheon February 25 in Prattville, and the District CLAS Banner Schools were announced.  


SPARK Team “We [SPARK Academy] have worked so hard as a school team and as a community to transition into a discovery driven instructional model that encourages student curiosity and questioning. This recognition is acknowledgement of all of our hard work,” said SPARK Academy Principal Dr. Beth McKinney.

The CLAS Banner School program was created in 2001 to recognize schools in Alabama that showcase
outstanding programs and service to students.


Athens City Schools Superintendent Trey Holladay is proud of the recognition as well, saying, “The team at SPARK has fully embraced the idea of implementing a new way to approach to teach traditional standards while integrating project-based learning in our elementary schools with their STEM focus. This shift in approach changes not what we teach, but how we teach it, and is the beginning of what innovative schools will look like in the future. It is fitting that they be awarded for serving as an outstanding educational model for other schools, because they truly are.”


The 2018 CLAS Banner Schools from across the state are:

  • District 1:  Alma Bryant School of Mobile County Schools
  • District 2:  Beverlye Magnet School of Dothan City Schools
  • District 3:  Hoover High School of Hoover City Schools
  • District 4:  Central High School of Tuscaloosa City Schools
  • District 5:  George Washington Carver Elementary School of Macon County Schools
  • District 6:  Pleasant Valley High School of Calhoun County Schools
  • District 7:  Leeds High School of Leeds City Schools
  • District 8:  SPARK Academy at Cowart of Athens City Schools


“Congratulations to these wonderful Alabama public schools which provide excellent examples of the significant learning opportunities taking place in public education in Alabama. Further, the stakeholders at every school are to be commended for striving for excellence daily,” comments Vic Wilson, Ed.D., executive director of CLAS.