Frazier Elementary in Dayton, Tenn., and Trion Elementary School in Trion, Ga., are among the 305 schools named as 2011 National Blue Ribbons Schools by the U.S. Department of Education on Thursday. Designation as a Blue Ribbon school is a signal honor. The two are among the 305 elementary, middle and high schools -- 256 public and 49 private -- in the nation to be hailed for either their overall academic excellence or for their success in closing achievement gaps, especially among disadvantaged students.
Several other schools in Tennessee and Georgia received the award, but none are in the tristate area. The Blue Ribbon awards have been given out for almost three decades as part of the Department of Education's on-going effort to identify and share information about excellence in teaching and in school leadership. The award is among the nation's most prestigious educational honors and competition is rigorous. It should be. The award winners, quite properly, are considered national models that other schools around the country can emulate.
That's a point made by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan when the awards were announced. "America's long-term economic prosperity and civic engagement depends on our children receiving a world-class education. National Blue Ribbon Schools are committed to accelerating student achievement and preparing students for success in college and careers. Their success is an example for others to follow."
Scott Crabbe, the principal at Trion Elementary, is mindful of what he correctly calls "the great honor" bestowed on his school and of the pressure that the award can bring. He accepts the challenge of serving as a national example for overall academic excellence in elementary schools. "The award does put you in the spotlight," he admits, "but we're used to hard work. We put more pressure on ourselves than anyone else. With the help of the community, we'll continue to set high standards and to work to achieve those goals."
Jerry Levengood, director of schools for Rhea County, views the award to Frazier Elementary in much the same way. "It is recognition of what we already know, of the good work done by the school and those associated with it. It is a great honor for them to be recognized on that scale," he said, adding that "we're elated about the award and excited about the exposure the school will get."
The U.S. Department of Education will honor the winning schools at a conference and ceremony in the nation's capital in mid-November. Representatives from both Frazier and Trion will be there to share knowledge with other educators and to claim their Blue Ribbons. The honor the award confers, as the recipients are quick to acknowledge, belongs not only to teachers, students and administrators, but to the communities that encourage them and support the education process.