Article by Emily Sparacino
Mt Laurel Elementary School’s staff and students have a new accolade to celebrate.
MLES was among 325 schools, including five Alabama schools, recognized as National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2021, according to an announcement from the U.S. Department of Education on Tuesday, Sept. 21.0
The recognition is based on a school’s overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups.
“This year’s cohort of honorees demonstrates what is possible when committed educators and school leaders create vibrant, welcoming and affirming school cultures where rich teaching and learning can flourish,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona wrote in a press release. “I commend all our Blue Ribbon honorees for working to keep students healthy and safe while meeting their academic, social, emotional and mental health needs.”
In a previous interview at the beginning of the school year, MLES Principal Celita Carmichael said she and her staff were focusing on supporting students’ wellbeing through mental health.
“Together, as a faculty, we’re doing this,” Carmichael said. “We started to have a focus on this last year as well, but with COVID, we’re really able to implement more of it. We are just really honing in on students’ needs and learning how to understand what our students go through.”
The initiative, which Carmichael learned about at a National Association of Elementary School Principals conference this summer, allows students to share weekly check-ins with teachers on private bulletin boards in class.
“In the face of unprecedented circumstances, you found creative ways to engage, care for, protect and teach our children,” Cardona wrote. “Blue Ribbon Schools have so much to offer and can serve as a model for other schools and communities so that we can truly build back better.”
The other Alabama schools named National Blue Ribbon Schools were: Hall-Kent Elementary School, Homewood City Schools District; Brewton Elementary School, Brewton City School District; MacMillan International Academy, Montgomery County Public School District; and Orange Beach Elementary School, Baldwin County School District.
The coveted National Blue Ribbon Schools award affirms the hard work of educators, families and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging and engaging content, the release read.
Now in its 39th year, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has bestowed nearly 10,000 awards to more than 9,000 schools.
The Department recognizes all schools in one of two performance categories, based on all student scores, subgroup student scores and graduation rates:
- Exemplary High-Performing Schools are among their state’s highest performing schools as measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests.
- Exemplary Achievement Gap-Closing Schools are among their state’s highest performing schools in closing achievement gaps between a school’s student groups and all students.
As many as 420 schools may be nominated each year. The Department invites National Blue Ribbon Schools nominations from the top education official in all states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the Department of Defense Education Activity and the Bureau of Indian Education. Private schools are nominated by the Council for American Private Education.
To read the full article, go to the Shelby County Reporter.