Mattapan School Principal Andrew Rollins says the last 24 hours have been a whirlwind.

On Wednesday morning, he learned that his school, the K-8 Mildred Avenue School in Mattapan, had won a $100,000 School On The Move prize for its achievement in improving students' academic performance.

EdVestors, a school improvement organization in Boston, awarded the money during a ceremony that was attended by Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Superintendent Tommy Chang, along with other school faculty and staff members.

"We're really excited, honored and humbled. We've had a pretty remarkable turnaround over the last four years," said Rollins.

According to Rollins, four years ago the school was struggling. It was one of the lowest performing schools in the state. But over time, Rollins says, Mildred Avenue School rose to become first school in Mattapan to earn a level 1 ranking, which is the highest in the state. Rollins says when it was revealed they won the award, that was the best news of all. 

Principal Andrew Rollins (left) stands with Boston Public Schools Superintendent Tommy Chang, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, and Mildred Avenue School faculty and staff.
Courtesy of Michael Manning/EdVestors

Rollins started at Mildred Avenue School in July 2014. He was brought in to lead a turnaround plan. He credits the teachers with creating the plan, and says successfully making improvements and instituting the plan has been a result of everyone working together.

"When I say we, I mean the teachers, the students, and our families all working together," Rollins said.

He says he hasn't had a chance to think about how he'll spend the money, but he'd like to figure out a way to make that $100,000 go as far as it can in helping support the students. One thing he expects to spend the money on is more computers.

"The thing we're most proud of is our students and the enthusiasm they bring to school everyday," Rollins said, adding thay students love being at Mildred Avenue. He says they have smiles on their faces when they walk in the door at 7 a.m., and they often stay late for after school programs and come to school during their vacations.

"That's where we knew we were really started to improve things. We saw it in the faces of our students and their families," he said.

Fellow finalist schools are the Patrick J. Kennedy Elementary School and the Donald McKay K-8 School, both in East Boston. These schools each received $10,000 in prizes.