The shock of being on probation several years ago due to ISTEP scores led to a determination to turn things around in a big way.
First they met benchmarks and brought scores up to an acceptable level but they didn't stop there. They kept improving and moving upward on the charts.
The dramatic turnaround is most evident in their math scores -- showing a 90.4 percent passing rate in math in the latest test results. Worthington, the other elementary school in the WRV district, posted 90.0 percent passing on the math portion of the test.
These two schools are the only two schools in the county who cracked 90 percent in math school-wide, though other individual grades in other districts in the area posted high as well.
"We started making changes, putting more energy in and focused," said Lyons Elementary Principal Kurt Lentz.
"We brought those scores up and we've been able to hold them up there for the last few years."
Michael Langevin, WRV's Director of Student Achievement, said the teachers at WRV Lyons are very dedicated.
Langevin is an educational consultant on contract to help all schools in the WRV district make improvements.
"It's very impressive," said Langevin. "Lyons teachers are examining their practice, seeing if that's being effective and if not, they are making adjustments. And they are focused on each individual child's need. They fit the learning to the child."
Lentz said individualized learning is one of many advantages of a small school.
"We try to create a program for each individual student," said Lentz explaining they use supplemental learning computer programs that test to determine the student's level in math and other subjects. The program then provides the exact instruction and learning activities the child needs to move ahead.
Other assorted tests are given throughout the year.
"Frequent assessment is necessary," said Lentz. "It's a key factor. We watch for growth, and the teaching can be quickly adjusted to meet the needs of the student whether they're below grade level or ready to expand beyond their grade level."
Along with the computer programs in a well-equipped computer lab, teachers are using large screen "Smart Board" technology in their classrooms.
The school's "pull-out" program also provides individual instruction. Students who need or are ready for extra instruction in math or any other area are pulled-out of their regular classroom for short times of group or individual instruction targeted to their need.
Betty Conklin, a special education teacher and interventionist who oversees the pull-out program, said teachers are using every moment possible during the school day to engage students.
"We're making use of every minute," said Conklin.
Lentz said the computer lab is open before school and while some are eating breakfast, many others are in the computer lab putting in some time on a learning activity.
Conklin said due to the district's bus schedules, many students have to wait after school for a bus to arrive so they take advantage of that time too.
"That 15 minutes they would be just waiting on the bus, we keep them busy on a computer or learning activity."
As required by the state, the school has established a School Improvement Committee comprised of a team of six to oversee the implementation of improvement plans.
Lentz said they meet regularly and analyze everything from the climate and atmosphere within the school to the latest test scores. They discuss ways to make improvements and share observations about what is working and what is not.
Lentz also credits an in-house training program as another key factor in the school's improvement.
WRV's Professional Growth Academy provides training for teachers and staff about twice a month during after-school hours and throughout the summer.
About 70 percent of the seminars and training sessions have been taught by Langevin. Other teachers and administrators lead other sessions to make use of expertise within the district.
Langevin said the sessions get teachers together from throughout the district to learn and to share. He said many classroom aides participate along with teachers.
The sessions cover everything from how to improve core instruction techniques to how to utilize new technology.
Langevin said teachers at Lyons all take advantage of the training sessions. He said they have been very focused and dedicated to improving the quality of their instruction and student scores despite facing challenges such as an increasing rate of students on free or reduced price lunch and a high mobility rate.
Lentz agreed the number of students moving in and out of the area is high possibly due to a lack of local employment opportunities.
"Our enrollment was down but it's coming back up" said Lentz. "In fact, we now have 32 students in kindergarten this year."
The school planned for one kindergarten class this year, but several more than expected have enrolled and now there's a need to add another class.
This year there are 180 students enrolled at Lyons in grades K-6 with another 13 in the Early Learning Program.
Lentz cites not one but many different programs and changes as contributing factors in the school's success and rise in test scores.
Matt McCammon, a fifth-grade teacher starting his 22nd year at Lyons, says their success in math is going to continue.
"We're holding steady," said McCammon.
WRV Lyons has climbed a big hill and they are proud of what they have accomplished.
When ISTEP scores were released a couple of years ago, McCammon's class ranked ninth in the state in math.