Tawas City

Clara Bolen Elementary

Pulling students who need extra help into small group settings to work on specific lessons so each child gets more individualized instruction is one of several strategies used to help students succeed at Bolen Elementary School, a modern brick building in the town of Tawas, MI., located along the shores of Lake Huron. More than 60 percent of its students come from low-income households, yet the proficiency rates in math and reading for these students at Bolen surpassed statewide rates from 2017 to 2019.

Bolen was selected as a Building the Hope School because it displays a dedicated focus on small-group instruction to meet student needs and its role as an intentional center of community in its town. Other pieces of the puzzle include parent and community support driven by its small-town closeness, regular assessments that guide instruction aimed at helping all students do well, and a team approach to teaching buttressed by professional development that keeps instructional staff on top of their game.  The first step, though, is striving to make all students feel valued and cared for.

Clara Bolen, it’s extremely welcoming to all students … We focus more on building as a family, and that carries out through my classroom and into the entire school.”

— Kelli Rau



of the student population are from low-income households

Low-Income Students’
2019 Above Average Achievement
Low-Income Students at Bolen
Statewide Proficiency Rate for all MI Students


are students of color

We’re very lucky to have a very close-knit community that very much supports the school and our initiatives … We don’t have to ask too far out for any support without having a quick response.”

— Sarah Danek

Former Principal

Total Enrollment

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