Blue Ribbon Schools Named Nationwide as Reward for Improvement

US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recently recognized 337 schools as National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2014, a distinction given to schools based on their overall academic excellence as well as their ability to make notable efforts in closing the achievement gap.

On November 10-11, 287 public schools and 50 private schools will take part in a recognition ceremony in Washington, DC.

“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,” Secretary Duncan said. “National Blue Ribbon Schools are models of consistent excellence and a resource for other schools and districts. We celebrate them for their tireless effort and boundless creativity in reaching and teaching every student.”

Of the winners this year, 11 are located in New Jersey, three of those in Morris County.

“The community deeply embraces the notion that the rich co-curricular and extracurricular offerings foster a great sense of pride in MTMS and connects students to their school,” Mendham Township Middle School Principal Patrick Ciccone said, “ultimately creating a learning environment conducive to every student meeting his or her greatest potential every day.”

According to Ciccone, the success of teachers is measured by the achievement and growth of their students.

Nine of the winning schools this year were located in Maryland, six of which were public schools and three Catholic schools.

Western School of Technology Principal Buddy Parker said the school has seen an increase in the number of Advanced Placement exams taken with the pass rate also increasing over the last several years.  Parker attributed the increase to the hard work of the teachers in the school.

In South Carolina, five schools won the prestigious award.

“These five schools across our state are models of academic excellence and should be celebrated for this achievement,” said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Mick Zais.  “They prove every day that zip codes should not affect a student’s destiny.  Full credit goes to the students, teachers, parents, and administrators in these communities.  They should be very proud of this accomplishment, as it will always be a part of their school’s history,” concluded Zais.

And in California, 24 schools received the award.  State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson commended the schools for their achievements, which has “brought out the very best in their students and themselves.”

Each year, a total of 420 schools may be nominated as National Blue Ribbon Schools by top education officials in each state as well as 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.

Over the past 32 years, the award has been given to 7,900 schools across the nation.