Cheers, tears and hugs: Three Dallas ISD schools earn National Blue Ribbon School award


Three Dallas ISD schools have earned the 2019 National Blue Ribbon School award, one of the highest honors for a campus.

Judge Barefoot Sanders Law Magnet School, Walnut Hill Elementary School and Jack Lowe Sr. Elementary School are Blue Ribbon Schools.

The U.S. Department of Education awards the Blue Ribbon recognition to schools where students perform at very high levels or where exemplary progress is being made toward closing achievement gaps.

Lowe Elementary Principal Sandra Barrios held back tears as Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced in a video the school earned Blue Ribbon honors. Lowe Elementary School was an Improvement Required campus just five years ago. The neighborhood elementary school serves a diverse student population, with many students coming as refugees or unable to speak English.

“I remember having to hold teachers’ hands and crying with them because the school was not where it needed to be. We were getting monitored by the TEA and the culture was not good,” Barrios said. “To now see where this school is today and to be at the top in five years is a testament to these teachers, students and community pulling together so hard to make this school a better place.”

Walnut Hill Elementary celebrates its Blue Ribbon status.

Meanwhile, Walnut Hill Elementary School is the first Dallas ISD neighborhood elementary school to earn two Blue Ribbons as an exemplary high-performing school. The school earned its first Blue Ribbon in 1999.

Walnut Hill Elementary Principal Phillip Potter credited the school’s unwavering commitment to excellence by the teachers, staff and students to the National Blue Ribbon award.

“To us, this honor means we are on track to accomplishing our goals,” Potter said. “We have established a tradition of excellence here at Walnut Hill Elementary. We want to continue that tradition of excellence and build upon this national recognition.”

Judge Barefoot Sanders Law Magnet

The Blue Ribbon nomination was especially special for Judge Barefoot Sanders Law Magnet Principal Garet Feimster as a Dallas ISD alumni.  He credited school’s success to the staff meeting the individual needs of students and moving them to where they need to be.

“This shows me what our students are capable of and that they can achieve whatever they set their minds to,” Feimster said. “As a product of Dallas ISD myself, part of my push is that it doesn’t matter where you come from or your background. There are no excuses why we can’t achieve at a high level.”

This is the second National Blue Ribbon for the Law Magnet, which earned its first one in 2012.


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