The Power of Change

What happened when one elementary school principal decided to change his kids’ future 

GUEST COLUMN | by Rick Holden

Ridgegate Elementary HoustonOne of the greatest rewards we see in education is the power of change. There is nothing more exciting to me personally than when the impossible not only becomes possible, it exceeds all expectations. Principal Lavanta Williams faced a major challenge during his first year on the job at Ridgegate Elementary School, just outside of Houston. After failing to meet the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) for both math and reading proficiency, Ridgegate was classified as a “low performing” school. Worse, many staff and students had low levels of motivation to be and do better in the classroom.

Williams refused to give up on his “kids,” as he affectionately calls them, and began the process of seeking new and innovative ways to get them back on track. It was around this time EPS Professional Development Consultant, Lynne Cook, reached out to Williams to gauge his interest in learning more about EPS Literacy and Intervention tools. His excitement for how these tools opened up new opportunities for these students around the core life skills of reading and basic math was palpable.

Peter Cleary, Director of Professional Services at EPS, met with Williams to learn more about his needs and how our intervention tools could meet his needs. Based on those conversations, a customized supplemental curriculum was developed around a suite of products, including Academy of READING, Academy of MATH, Explode The Code, MCI (Making Connections Intervention) and Wordly Wise 3000.

What happened next was truly remarkable.

Once these intervention tools were integrated into the curriculum and both students and teachers got past the learning curve, the enthusiasm for learning and achievement became contagious. The students excelled and Ridgegate met its AYP targets for both reading and math, with 90 percent and 86 percent of students meeting the standards respectively – an increase of 12 percent in both subject areas over the previous year. Williams credits the customized intervention solution from EPS for helping to spur these impressive gains in math and reading among his students.

Stepping into the hallways of Ridgegate, you can feel the exhilaration radiating from every corner of the school. Leading the way was Williams, whose leadership, enthusiasm and boundless energy motivates his students and his teachers to reach amazing new heights. “These products worked wonders for my kids,” he said. “It is amazing the progress we’ve seen. This customized intervention solution really provided a foundation for us and helped fill in the gaps of what was missing in the classroom.”

Ridgegate’s success is a stellar example of how believing in the possibility of change can bring about tangible results. Williams was determined not to let any more of his “kids” fall through the cracks. As a result of the dedication he and his staff showed, they were able to improve the core life skills of reading and math for these students. Today, students whose future opportunities may have seemed limited, can now see new possibilities and are now ready to conquer what once may have seemed insurmountable.


Rick Holden is president of EPS. To hear more from Ridgegate Elementary parents and educators about the difference EPS solutions have made in the classroom, view video testimonials.

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