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(L-R) ECTAC Program Specialist Kathi Harmon, Mintz Assistant Principal Tara Horn, Title I Coordinator Rose Marie Bell, Area 5 Generalist Supervisor Mia Small

Mintz is Exceeding Expectations - and winning a statewide award for its grade and gains

November 01, 2018 - Points of Pride

Mintz Elementary School is celebrating a huge honor: it’s the only school in Hillsborough County to be selected as an Exceeding Expectations Award School by the East Coast Technical Assistance Center (ECTAC). The Exceeding Expectations Project identifies and recognizes high performing Title I schools in Florida.

“Our students, staff and parents at Mintz are so deeply honored to have received this award,” said Mintz Elementary Assistant Principal Tara Horn. “To be presented with this distinction feels incredible; realizing our efforts and behind-the-scenes endeavors are noted and appreciated,” Horn said.

Horn accepted the award on behalf of the school and Principal Debbie Moltisanti at an awards ceremony in Orlando, along with Area 5 Generalist Supervisor Mia Small, Educational Leadership and Professional Development Assistant Principal Coach George Fekete and Title I Coordinator Rose Marie Bell.

“We were chosen as one of 26 schools out of more than 2,000 based on our proficiency in reading, math and science, learning gains in math and reading, as well as our school grade,” Horn explained. “My teachers and students deserved every bit of this honor as they work tirelessly to achieve these results.”

In order to decide whether a school receives the honor, members from ECTAC spend an intensive day at the school. At Mintz, judges observed nearly every classroom and spoke with a panel of students, parents and administrators. ECTAC Director Marjorie Murray and Program Specialist Kathi Harmon said at the end of the day, they knew Mintz would be a finalist for the Exceeding Expectations Award. “If we had children, we would want them at this school,” said Murray.

In the sixth year for the project, ECTAC reported that 126 schools in the state qualified and only Mintz and 25 other schools met 100 percent of the very stringent guidelines: 


2017-2018 E2 Project Selection Criteria – Elementary School


Maintain or increase total proficiency in Reading and Math from 2015-16 to 2016-17

School Grade

Maintain or increase School Grade from 2015-16 to 2016-17

Learning Gains

(Regular) Learning Gains above the state median in both Reading and Math and Lower Quartile Gains above the state median for Reading and Math 2017

School Grade

Current School Grade of A or B

Lowest 300

Not in the Lowest 300


Above the state median in Reading and Math proficiency in the Black and Hispanic Subgroup (if applicable)


Above the state median in ELA and Math for overall percent proficient


Above the state median in Science percent proficient

Award recipients were also asked to present at the Exceeding Expectations conference and share some of the school’s “best practices” with other educators from across the state. ECTAC provides technical assistance services in the development and implementation of Title I programs to its 44-member school districts.

“The experience of being immersed into the Title I culture was exhilarating. Being around like-minded individuals with the same goals for our high needs students enlightened me and expanded my own educational repertoire,” said Horn.

Horn presented to hundreds of colleagues during the 2-day conference and focused on professional development for teachers to take ownership of learning. She asked participants to answer poignant questions like: What are your strengths as a teacher? What are the gaps in student learning that concern you? What is the one thing you know you need to get better at, but strive to keep a secret?

“From my presentation, I hope that others left with some ideas on incorporating individualized professional development into their own schools and were able to begin implementing targeted concepts to assist with teacher learning. The whole experience helped me grow professionally and network with others who have similar demographics and interests,” said Horn.

Presentation handout:

Annually, using the Florida Department of Education School Grade database, the ECTAC analysis team identifies Title I schools that are showing significant progress in improving student achievement. Mintz Elementary will continue to strive to be a school that is exceeding expectations.

For more information about ECTAC and the Exceeding Expectations Award, visit:

To see what’s happening at Mintz Elementary, follow the school on Twitter: and Facebook:

Check out the school’s website for more information about Mintz Elementary:

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