Tuscola school gets national recognition

Tuscola school gets national recognition

By: Quinn Propst

By: Quinn Propst

By: Quinn Propst

By: Quinn Propst

TUSCOLA – A representative from the U.S. Department of Education will be in Tuscola on Tuesday to present a Blue Ribbon Award to North Ward Elementary School – one of only 15 schools in the state to receive the honor.

Principal Ann Lamkey said she's thrilled the school is getting the recognition. But she said the success at North Ward is due to people, not programs.

"We have a really experienced staff of teachers who really work hard to make sure their kids are learning," Lamkey said. "They keep on top of things, keep current, make sure they're using research-based practices and they work well together."

Lamkey said the teachers share good ideas, and they also share a commitment to making sure their students are learning.

"It's wonderful to have your hard work validated," she said. "So many times elementary schools get overlooked. We don't have the sports teams, we don't have the kids out there competing for different awards, so it's nice to have a program where the kids and their teachers can shine."

The No Child Left Behind – Blue Ribbon Program honors schools that are academically superior in their state or show great academic improvement.

North Ward met its Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP, goal in Illinois Standards Achievement Test scores to achieve the national recognition. AYP under the No Child Left Behind Act requires that schools and students show progress in standardized testing each year.

Lamkey learned of the award in an e-mail from the Department of Education. As soon as she read the message, she got on the intercom and announced the news to the entire school.

"We're excited," she said. "This is the first time in the schools of Tuscola to achieve this."

Lamkey and third-grade teacher Jeanie Taylor will travel to Washington, D.C., to accept the award on Nov. 9 and 10.

The North Ward teachers selected Taylor to go as their representative.

North Ward was nominated by the state, and then Lamkey had to send in five years' worth of AYP information about the school. North Ward has always had good test scores, Lamkey said.

Last year's preliminary test scores show that math continues to be a strong point for North Ward. Some 97 percent of third-graders met or exceeded math scores and 99 percent of fourth-graders met or exceeded math scores.

And, 97 percent of fourth-graders met or exceeded standards in science. In reading 91 percent of third-graders and 88 percent of fourth-graders met or exceeded standards. North Ward has 405 students in special education early childhood through grade four, and 31 teachers.

Lamkey said community support has been a key to the school's success.

"We are very fortunate to live in a community that values education," she said.

"We need to put in a big plug to parents in the community that stress education," school board President Dave Lietz said. "Without their help, we wouldn't have achieved this."

Lamkey said everyone who works in the building from the aides to the custodial staff and teachers go the extra mile to help the students.

North Ward and Cambridge Grade School, which is near Rock Island in western part of the state are the only Blue Ribbon schools in Illinois south of Interstate 80. Many of the others are larger schools in the suburbs of Chicago.

"That speaks volumes," Superintendent Joe Burgess Jr. said.

Last week at the board of education meeting, Burgess congratulated Lamkey and the many teachers present for their achievement.

He said City Administrator Drew Hoel is working on putting up signs celebrating the achievement on U.S. 45 and U.S. 36. Hoel is also trying to get signs for the exit ramps on Interstate 75.

Lamkey said that although the federal government has given the OK on ISAT scores the state has yet to release official scores.

ISAT scores are expected to be officially announced by mid- to late October.

Nationwide, 250 schools have been selected as Blue Ribbon schools. A second group of schools will be announced in October when more test score data is available.

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Categories (2):News, Education


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