2016 Blue Ribbon Schools award recipients honored

Twenty-six 2016 national Blue Ribbon Schools were celebrated with a luncheon and State Board of Education recognition recently.

A Jan. 23 luncheon hosted by the Texas Education Agency, the state board, the Texas Association of School Administrators, Edgenuity, Itslearning, FreshGrade and Scholastic honored these high-performing schools.

 The State Board of Education also passed a resolution in their honor and presented school representatives with a certificate on Feb. 3. The schools were honored at a national ceremony in Washington, D.C. in November.

Texas schools have been named Blue Ribbon award recipients 658 times since this program began in 1982. The 2016 honorees are exemplary high performing schools as measured by state assessments. Each school has an economically disadvantaged population of 22 percent or greater.

The application process also considers many other topics such as the school’s demographics, curriculum, graduation rates, school climate information and, at the high school level, and its foreign language offerings.
Here’s a brief look taken largely from their Blue Ribbon applications of this year’s recipients.

 Alief ISD – Alief Early College High
Alief Early College High School is located on the Houston Community College campus. It blends high school and college coursework allowing traditionally underserved students the opportunity to earn an associate degree while simultaneously earning a high school diploma.  The school’s students meet at least one of the following criteria: first generation in college, economically disadvantaged, English spoken as a second language, historically underrepresented in college, and/or at risk of not graduating from high school. Despite what some might consider challenging demographics, 60 percent of seniors have earned an Associate Degree of Science or Art and another 20 percent have completed the core academic courses.

 Alief ISD – Kerr High School
Kerr High School in the Alief School District is a Title I public school of choice with the motto: "Unique by design, Different by choice." Students attending Kerr anticipate an education that will help prepare them for college. This creates a focused college-bound culture where students enjoy having ownership of their learning experience and freedom to make choices that will lead them successfully through high school. This school’s graduates have a college persistence rate – which means they stay in college – that is 20 percent higher than the national average.

 Azle ISD – Cross Timbers Elementary School
Cross Timbers Elementary is located in Azle, near Fort Worth. The school, which is a Title I school, has a diverse population of students both ethnically and socioeconomically. Teachers, staff, and parent volunteers work together to create a sense of community and family within the school. Students arrive each day ready with the 5 P's: Present, Punctual, Prepared, Participating, and Polite. Using this mantra, teachers and parents recognize that every minute of the day is valued and utilized for maximum effectiveness.

 Belton ISD – Leon Heights Elementary School
When Leon Heights Elementary School in Belton ISD first opened its doors in 1956, the building was intended to serve as both a school and a place where the entire community could gather. While the community outgrew the school's cafeteria long ago, that sense of community engagement is still central to Leon Heights' identity. The school's principal has said that "there's not a stranger here," and it's true. Some families have had three generations attend this school.

  Bishop Consolidated ISD - Petronila Elementary School
Petronila Elementary School in Bishop Consolidated ISD is located between Kingsville and Corpus Christi. This Title I school serves pre-kindergarten through fifth grade. The school issues every student a mobile tablet that can be used at school or at home. If a student doesn’t have Wi-Fi available at home, the school makes that available too. Providing students at Petronila an educational experience with innovative instructional programs and activities sets the stage for helping them develop.

 Borden County ISD – Borden County School
Borden County I.S.D. is the only school district in the rural West Texas county of Borden. This school, which houses early childhood education through 12th grade, is the hub of the community, a community that takes great pride in the fact that excellence is the school's standard, not its goal. Those high expectations lead the students, teachers, and administrators to challenge themselves on a daily basis. They are achieving results. That’s clear from a photo on their Blue Ribbon application that shows a huge number of UIL trophies won last year.

  Brownsville ISD – Brownsville Early College High School
Brownsville Early College High School (BECHS) reflects the community's desire to increase the percentage of their population with a four-year college degree. College preparation is at the core of the school's design, resulting in college attainability for 100 percent of the school’s students. The high expectations held for all attending students, through a rigorous curriculum, produces high performance results. Lifelong learning, leadership, and community involvement are the core values of this campus. This bond is strengthened by the students’ active involvement in the community through the many volunteer opportunities provided by school clubs.

 Burnham Wood Charter School – Vista Del Futuro Charter School
Vista Del Futuro Charter School opened its doors in 2010. After the first year, it was identified as a priority school. The school changed its instructional strategies and studied data to determine the best ways to meet each student’s needs. This enabled the school to turn around and make huge strides in student performance and achieve Texas Education Agency Reward School and Federal Reward School status. Today, the core curriculum is based on state standards and enhanced with supplemental materials to include digital technology, online programs to continue mastery of a concept, and hands on learning experiences.

  Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD – Rosemeade Elementary School
Rosemeade Elementary in Carrollton has a tradition that is known as the "Rosemeade Way" and involves setting high expectations for every child. Beginning the first day of school, students are introduced to the "Roadrunner 4Rs" - Be respectful, reliable, resourceful, and responsible. Modeled by faculty, staff, and students, these character traits encourage and challenge all students to develop to their full potential academically, emotionally, socially, and culturally.

 Dallas ISD – George Bannerman Dealey International Academy and the George Bannerman Dealey Montessori Vanguard
Besides both being named for the long-time publisher of the Dallas Morning News, these two schools share the same campus but are recognized individually this year as Blue Ribbon Schools. George Bannerman Dealey Montessori Vanguard serves kindergarten through eighth-grade and the George Bannerman Dealey International Academy serves seventh and eighth grades.

The Montessori school provides multi-age classrooms and following the Montessori model of using the environment in its teaching methods. For example, Dealey students maintain a thriving outdoor garden area where they can combine experiences in science, math, and other disciplines into a single focused activity.

The International Academy has a diverse population that attracts students from 45 zip codes throughout Dallas who come from homes where 19 different languages are spoken. With 200 students, the school offers small class sizes that allows the strong student-teacher interaction.

 Dallas ISD – School of Health Professions at Yvonne A. Ewell Townview Center
 As a Career and Technical Education high school with an average enrollment of 550 students, Townview Center has consistently graduated at least 99 percent of its senior class for the past five years. A variety of pathways for the students are offered and include dental assisting, medical assisting, medical laboratory, patient care technician, pharmacy technician, therapy careers and veterinarian studies. Students are able to take national certification exams in dental assisting, medical assisting or EKG and Phlebotomy upon completion of their required coursework and internships. For the 2015-2016 school year, the average passing rate on all four exams for the school’s students was 92 percent.

 Edinburg Consolidated ISD – Canterbury Elementary School
Canterbury Elementary has a long-standing commitment of excellence attributed to the consistent implementation of 21st Century Learners' 4-C's: Collaboration, Communication, Creativity, and Critical Thinking. The Canterbury Knights say they are Kind, Noble, Inquisitive, Generous, Honorable, and Talented.

 Edinburg Consolidated ISD – Norma Linda Trevino Elementary School
Norma Linda Trevino Elementary is focused on this vision: "All students will experience success through teamwork and dedication." High expectations and support from staff, students, parents, and the community make this vision a reality. The school uses a “bring your own device” initiative to create a technology-rich environment.
Fort Worth ISD – Young Women’s Leadership Academy
The Young Women's Leadership Academy is the Fort Worth Independent School District's first single-gender campus and one of eight all-girls public schools in the state of Texas. The Academy is a private-public partnership between Fort Worth ISD and the Young Women's Preparatory Network. The Academy serves 400 students with 60 percent being economically disadvantaged. The Academy is committed to three core values: 1) college preparation, 2) leadership development and 3) health and wellness.

 Garland ISD – Hillside Academy for Excellence
Hillside Academy in Garland ISD is a magnet school which serves students who qualify as academically gifted and/or musically or artistically talented. These students come to Hillside from across the school district. On-grade level students who live in close proximity of the school are also included in the population. The school's mission is to ensure that every student has the opportunity to reach his or her academic potential and to develop self-control, self-respect, and respect for others. Students are rewarded for academic performance, acts of responsibility, acts of kindness and volunteerism.
Houston ISD – Lovett Elementary School
Edgar Odell Lovett Elementary Fine Arts Magnet School is located in Southwest Houston in the Houston Independent School District. Lovett's vision is to work as a Professional Learning Community to provide opportunities that meet the individual needs of students in an environment that fosters a positive and enthusiastic learning experience. The school strives to create a school environment where the academic and artistic worlds meet seamlessly.
Houston ISD – Oak Forest Elementary School
Oak Forest Elementary School, nestled in a historic Houston neighborhood that has been revitalized into a vibrant, fast-growing and diverse community, maintains a small-town sense of community. Its 812 students come from various cultures and academic and socioeconomic backgrounds. Oak Forest is an exemplary magnet school that has been serving gifted and talented students for 40 years. It also serves students with multiple disabilities and students with autism.
Lubbock ISD – Margaret Talkington School for Young Women Leaders
The Margaret Talkington School for Young Women Leaders is a specialty school serving the needs of first-generation, college-bound young women in the Lubbock ISD community. The school's core values include: college preparatory academics, leadership, service, and health and wellness. Science, mathematics, engineering, and technology receive special emphasis in the Talkington college-preparatory program. Talkington maintains a 100 percent graduation rate and 100 percent graduate acceptance to a four-year university.

 Malakoff ISD – Tool Elementary School
Tool Elementary School is a small Prekindergarten - 5th grade campus in the city of Tool in East Texas. Tool is a Title I campus with an 80 percent economically disadvantaged population and a mobility rate of 37 percent. The daily schedule is built to accommodate students with learning gaps by providing all day content mastery and reading intervention. Tool has a fall and spring after-school tutoring program for students in grades 3-5. During tutoring, students are provided small group instruction and the teacher can interact one on one with each student.

 Miles ISD – Miles Elementary School
Miles Elementary is a small rural school situated among cotton fields in West Texas. The people of Miles are immersed in the farming tradition and are proud of the work ethic and contributions that they make to society. As the farmers sow, so do the teachers at Miles Elementary, and both are planting seeds that will produce a great harvest. District leaders say Miles Elementary is successful because of the passion of the teachers and staff and the knowledge each has of the students and their individual needs.

 Panhandle ISD – Panhandle Elementary School
Students at Panhandle Elementary say they are “People of Pride and Purpose.” Many students are the fourth generation of their family to attend this school. Although a stable population, it is also a diverse one. Teachers differentiate classroom instruction to meet the needs of all students and utilize the various support programs for struggling students. Students also have two or three scheduled recess breaks throughout the day, depending on grade level. The Panhandle staff consider these opportunities to socialize and be active are essential to the emotional and physical growth of our students.

 Pittsburg ISD – Pittsburg Intermediate School
Pittsburg Intermediate is a fifth and sixth grade Title I campus that is dedicated to all students through hard work, high expectations, relationships, and collaboration among all teachers, administrators, and paraprofessionals. At Pittsburg Intermediate, improvement in academic performance is a continual, data-driven process with deep roots in high expectations. The faculty is committed to the idea that all students will succeed.

 United ISD – Trautmann Elementary School
Andrew Trautmann Elementary School is a two-time recipient of the National Blue Ribbon School Award. It earned this distinction in 2010 and 2016, Implementation of schoolwide activities, such as live daily news broadcasts through V-Brick, provides an opportunity for students to showcase innovative science experiments, scholarly vocabulary of the week, daily weather forecasts, Mighty Writing activities, and Counselor's and Librarian's Corner. These daily activities enhance communications skills.

 Van Vleck ISD – Van Vleck Elementary School
Van Vleck Elementary is the only elementary school in the Van Vleck Independent School District, located in Matagorda County. The staff uses the I.M.P.A.C.T. theme to instill in their students an internal motivation and desire to successfully grow individually as well as to contribute positively to the world around them.

 Whitehouse ISD – Gus Winston Cain Elementary School
Gus Winston Cain Elementary is in Whitehouse ISD, just outside Tyler. The Cain community lives the school’s vision that failure is not an option. The school’s mission statement says in part: “Our students only have one opportunity at school success and because of this our clocks are set to one time...NOW!” The success of Cain's students and staff is rooted in five core systems: Collaboration, Standards Alignment, Intervention, Assessment, and Data Analysis.