"Mrs. Stevens is a hard worker, dedicated to making Bate Middle School the best it can be," Danville Superintendent Bob Rowland said Thursday. "She has done so with an outstanding staff of educators on the middle school faculty who make good things happen for the students at Bate.
"All of us in the Danville schools congratulate Mrs. Stevens for this terrific honor," Rowland said.
Stevens, who is in her fourth year as principal at Bate, said today she is honored to be recognized by a professional organization of her peers for the work she has done at Bate.
"But while I am proud to have received this honor, it must be stated that it reflects what's been happening at our school and who's been making it happen more than it is a singular honor for me," she said.
"A principal cannot be successful unless there are a lot of people supporting her, and I have a very strong faculty and staff and very strong support from Mr. Rowland and all of the staff at central office."
Stevens said Bate embarked in 2000 on an ambitious set of initiatives aimed at ensuring that all students at the 450-pupil school are given ample opportunities to learn and the best possible instruction.
"The basis for initiatives were standardized test scores indicating gaps between different sets of students, especially (caucasian) and minority students," she said. "We then started a process to bridge achievement gaps that, in its initial stages, involved talking to community leaders to get their suggestions on how we could help all of our students be successful."
The process involved efforts, including faculty training, to develop culturally responsive instruction, create closer relationships with underachieving students, and develop an atmosphere conducive to learning.
"The process is ongoing, but I do believe we have at least succeeded in changing the environment at Bate to the point where our teachers are providing strong instruction for all students and each and every one of our kids knows they will not be left behind," said Stevens.
A few months ago, Stevens was invited to testify in Frankfort to an interim state legislative panel looking at efforts of Kentucky's schools to meet requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
Prior to her tenure at Bate, Stevens served in different administrative positions in the Lincoln County district. She was assistant principal and then principal at Lincoln County Middle School, and later she served as supervisor of instruction for the district.
Before going to work in the Lincoln district, she was a classroom teacher at Bate and Hogsett schools in the Danville district. She began her career as an educator at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School in Louisville.
Stevens, a native of London whose mother was from the Parksville area in Boyle County, earned her undergraduate degree from Centre College and a master's degree in urban education from Indiana University. She received her education administration certifications from Eastern Kentucky University.
She is married to Alex Stevens, a retired teacher and administrator in the Danville and Boyle County districts as well as a former Danville mayor. She said her husband was the "real guiding force behind my pursuing my goal to be a principal."