Las Vegas Sun

July 6, 2015

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School District names new assistant superintendent for ELL students

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Steve Marcus

Working-class excellence: Halle Hewetson Elementary Principal Lucy Keaton has taken her school to new heights.

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Principal Lucy Keaton of Halle Hewetson Elementary School in North Las Vegas has been named a National Distinguished Principal by the National Association of Elementary School Principals.

The Clark County School District has selected Lucy Keaton to become the first assistant superintendent of the district's English Language Learner program.

Because of its growing number of non-English-speaking students, the School District has created a new administrative position to oversee all of the English Language Learner programs.

In her new role, Keaton will be responsible for the curriculum for 53,000 English-language learner students in the nation's fifth-largest school district. Born in Mexico City, Keaton is a former ELL student who overcame learning difficulties to become one of the most successful principals in Las Vegas.

The district has pointed to Keaton's Hewetson Elementary School as a model five-star school for other elementary schools to emulate. District officials repeatedly cite Keaton's work there as proof that students can achieve great results regardless of their backgrounds. All of the students at Hewetson receive free or reduced-price lunches, and 61 percent are considered limited English-proficient.

During her eight years at Hewetson, Keaton transformed the central valley school into a "high-achieving, exemplary turnaround school," according to the federal government. Last year, 90 percent of third-, fourth- and fifth-graders were proficient in math, 78 percent were proficient in reading and 63 percent of fifth-graders were proficient in writing — all higher than the district average.

In September 2010, Keaton was named a National Distinguished Principal by the National Association of Elementary School Principals, and was inducted into the Nevada Education Hall of Fame in 2011. During her time as principal, Hewetson was also named a National Title 1 Distinguished School, an Exemplary Reward School and was on the National Honor Roll of High Performing Urban Schools.

"Lucille Keaton has demonstrated that she can, in conjunction with our staff, close the education gap we so often see among English language learners," Clark County Schools Superintendent Dwight Jones said in a statement. "Lucille sets the same high bar for English language learners as she does for all other students and she helps them reach it. I look forward to working with her to set a new vision to best serve the growing number of English language learners in our district."

Keaton is a 19-year veteran of the School District who started as a bilingual kindergarten teacher to become a nationally recognized educator. Her salary will be between $88,000 and $97,000.

"I am grateful for the opportunity that Superintendent Jones has given me to serve the district students and lead a team that will ensure our students receive the highest quality education no matter what their language of origin," Keaton said in a statement. "As a native Spanish-speaker, this work is close to my heart and I understand the challenge first-hand that our students face.

"I truly believe that all students can achieve regardless of circumstance," Keaton continued. "I am an example of that."

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