Press Releases

Laurens County School District 56 Surprised with TAP Award of Distinction

Mar 09, 2012

Leaders of the Laurens County School District 56 in South Carolina were surprised with the TAP Award of Distinction, which honors an organization for its dedication and commitment to TAP: The System for Teacher and Student Advancement. The Award was presented before more than a thousand educators and policy leaders attending a Friday luncheon at the 12th National TAP Conference, Building a System of Teacher Leaders. Two principals in the district—Eddie Marshall of Joanna Woodson Elementary School and Melodie Edwards of Eastside Elementary School—accepted the award on the district's behalf.

TAP: The System for Teacher and Student Advancement is a revolutionary education reform that offers teachers opportunities for career advancement, ongoing job-embedded professional growth, educator evaluation and performance-based compensation. The implementation of TAP's comprehensive elements is proven to strengthen teacher effectiveness and student achievement. Laurens County School District is one of the earliest adopters of TAP, starting with Bell Street Middle School as a pilot in 2001. Now the TAP system is implemented districtwide.

"We are proud of our long partnership with Laurens County School District 56," said Dr. Gary Stark, president and CEO of the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching, the non-profit public charity that manages and supports the TAP system and presents the TAP Award of Distinction. "The district and community of educators, administrators and legislators have invested in TAP for over a decade, and have reaped the rewards in terms of educator effectiveness and student achievement."

When Laurens County School District 56 leaders saw TAP's significant impact on teacher retention and student growth at Bell Street Middle School, they knew that the district was ripe for expanding TAP and making it the vehicle for educational improvement. What's more, a comprehensive system to create environments for educators to stay and thrive was just what the district needed.

Now, "TAP is our compass for improving and excelling in our district, one teacher at a time, one student at a time, one school at a time, said Superintendent Dr. David O'Shields, who was principal of Bell Street Middle School when TAP was first implemented.

The TAP system has been in demand in high-need schools partly because it is designed to tailor strategies to the specific needs of teachers and students alike. In Laurens County School District 56, each school has selected master and mentor teachers who, along with the principal and other administrators, form the TAP Leadership Team. This team drives instruction through weekly collaborative professional development and follow-up, classroom observations and pre- and post-conferences with every teacher.

"Through TAP, we're drilling down into the data and looking at things that are making a difference for the school—and most importantly—for that independent child in that classroom," said Marshall of Joanna-Woodson Elementary School.

The district's dedication to TAP regularly serves as a model for other districts and states to emulate. Laurens 56 has hosted state and federal legislators, superintendents and school leadership teams. TAP principals regularly communicate with parents about the connectivity and cohesion TAP creates among content areas and grade levels.

"We have developed a common language based in TAP," said Maureen Tiller, principal of Clinton High School. "This has allowed parents to understand how we hold ourselves accountable and how we are constantly learning and growing to improve student achievement in our district."

Other districts receiving the TAP Award of Distinction are the DeSoto Parish School System in Louisiana, Lancaster Independent School District in Texas and Lincoln Consolidated School District in Arkansas.

The TAP Recognition Awards are funded by the Lowell Milken Family Foundation.

Introduced in 1999, TAP impacts more than 20,000 teachers and 200,000 students. For more information on TAP or the 12th National TAP Conference at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles, visit You can also follow the TAP system's live updates on Twitter at


Principal Omar Duron Wins Arizona Milken Educator Award

Jennifer Williams Surprised with Louisiana Milken Educator Award

2019 Lowell Milken Founder's Award Goes to Wildflower School in Goodyear, AZ

STEM Teacher Nichole Anderson Receives Milken Educator Award

2010-19 Missouri Milken Educator Therese Shain Shares Big News

Angie Beavin wins Milken Educator Award in Kentucky

Erica Stephens Accepting 2018 Tenneesee Milken Educator Award

Oklahoma Kindergarten Teacher Hailey Couch Wins 2018 Milken Award

Kansas 2018 Milken Educator Award Recipient Linda Dishman

West Goshen Elementary School Named 2018 TAP Founder's Award Recipient

Teacher Theresa Cross Surprised with Milken Educator Award

Principal Debreon Davis Wins Milken Educator Award

Katherine Watkins Surprised with Milken Educator Award

Knoxville Teacher Paula Franklin Receives Milken Educator Award

Lisa Rodgers Announced as this year's Colorado Milken Educator Award Recipient

Lowell Milken's James Bryant Conant Award Acceptance Speech

Lowell Milken Congratulates 2015 Milken Educator John Lary

Lowell Milken Speaks at 2015 Chapman University Commencement

Lowell Milken with Students at Friendly House Academia del Pueblo Elementary Charter School

Lowell Milken Keynote Address at 2017 TAP Conference

Felicia Casto wins Milken Educator Award at Rim Rock Elementary

Lowell Milken Speaks with Students at East End Prep in Nashville, TN

Ryan James Presented with 2017 Milken Educator Award in Richmond, Virginia

Lowell Milken, Tom Torlakson and Wayne Jospeh at 2017 Milken Educator Award Presentation

Lowell Milken Accepts 2017 James Bryant Conant Award

Media Interviews at Devon Willis-Jones Milken Educator Awards Assembly


Lowell Milken Presents Music Teacher Nicolas Jacques with Nevada Milken Educator Award

Computer Teacher Nichole Anderson Surprise with Milken Educator Award

Missouri Teacher Therese Shain Receives Milken Educator Award

Angie Beavin Surprised with Kentucky Milken Educator Award

Principal Wendy Shirey Receives Nevada Milken Educator Award

Sarah Szymanski Wins Colorado Milken Award

Math Teacher Erica Stephens Wins Tennessee Milken Award in Memphis, TN

Heather Hurt Announced as 2018-19 Alabama Milken Educator Awardee

Oklahoma Kindergarten Teacher Hailey Couch Wins Milken Award

Perry Township Schools Receives First-Ever National Award of Excellence for Educator Effectiveness

AZ Science Teacher Jonathan Cadena Surprised with Milken Educator Award

Math Teacher Angela Boxie Wins Milken Educator Award

Katherine Watkins Surprised with Milken Educator Award

Knoxville Teacher Paula Franklin Surprised with Milken Educator Award

Chino Hills Teacher Alexis King Receives 2017 Milken Educator Award

G.W. Carver Primary School Wins 2017 TAP Founder's Award

Arizona Teacher Ana Gutierrez Receives Milken Educator Award

Milken Archive Releases Retrospective Documentary