Four Dallas ISD schools have been named 2014 National Blue Ribbon Schools. The announcement was made today by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who recognized 337 schools across the nation for their academic excellence or for making exemplary progress in closing the achievement gap.
Kathlyn Joy Gilliam Collegiate Academy, Dr. Wright L. Lassiter Jr. Early College High School, Henry W. Longfellow Career Exploration Academy, and School of Business and Management at the Yvonne A. Ewell Townview Center each received the coveted award.
“This is a tremendous achievement for the students, staff and parents of each of these schools, and they should all be commended,” said Superintendent Mike Miles. “They are among the best in the nation for consistently performing at high academic levels, which is the core of Destination 2020. These schools’ efforts to focus on the classroom are positively impacting student achievement, and to have four schools named this year is a great accomplishment. We can all be proud.”
This year’s winners include 48 high schools, 25 middle schools, 239 elementary schools and 25 K-12 schools across the country.
In a U.S. Department of Education news release, Duncan stated, “These great schools are fulfilling the promise of American education—that all students, no matter their name or zip code, can flourish when schools provide safe, creative, and challenging learning environments.”
To be nominated, schools must meet stringent criteria and a third of the public Blue Ribbon Schools from each state must have enrollments where at least 40 percent of the students are from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Each of the Dallas ISD schools honored serve a student body where the vast majority of its students are from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds, making this honor especially rewarding.
“Gilliam Collegiate Academy is proud of the foundation that it has built,” said Tamara Francis, principal at Gilliam. “Since its inception, Gilliam has continuously raised the bar as it pertains to academic achievement. Each time the bar is raised, the scholars surpass the mark. This is what truly exemplifies a National Blue Ribbon School.”
This is the second Blue Ribbon award for Longfellow and School of Business and Management. Both schools received the award in 2007 and 2008, respectively.
“Words cannot express how exciting it is to know our students are achieving at tremendously high levels in spite of the challenges many of them face each day,” said Michele Broughton, principal at the School of Business and Management. “Achieving the National Blue Ribbon Schools designation speaks directly to the commitment of each of our staff members and the high quality instruction they consistently provide our students.”
For the staff and students at Longfellow, this award “signifies our school has met the stringent criteria established by the Texas Education Agency as well as by a national review panel of 100 educators,” said Cheryl Breedlove-Wright, principal at Longfellow. “This recognition serves as affirmation to our school personnel and community that the high quality of education provided to our students fuels their success.”
As a new principal at Lassiter, Michael St. Ama is quick to point to the work accomplished at the school during the past few years saying, “The systems and expectations that former principal Eric Markinson put in place were targeted specifically to position us as a Blue Ribbon School. He and the students have to be thanked. We have amazing students here at Lassiter who give us their best every day, and they truly deserve this honor.”
The schools will be honored at a recognition ceremony Nov. 10-11 in Washington, D.C.