January 12, 2017 – The Texas Education Agency today announced Whittier Elementary School is one of the state’s 26 nominees for 2017 National Blue Ribbon Schools recognition.
Founded in 1982, National Blue Ribbon Schools is a U.S. Department of Education program which recognizes public and private elementary, middle and high schools where students perform at very high levels. According to the TEA, all schools nominated for the 2017 honor are exemplary high performing schools as measured by state assessments. Each school has an economically disadvantaged population of 22 percent or greater.
“We believe our efforts are essential to a student’s success when they leave our campus,” said Whittier Principal Bea Enevoldsen. “We equate that time in our elementary school to building a house. If you don’t have a strong foundation, it doesn’t matter how solid the rest of your structure is because, with time, it will not hold. What we’re doing at Whittier goes beyond elementary life.”
Enevoldsen notes collaboration between administrators, teachers, students and parents is key to her school’s success. Focus groups pair administrators with teachers in a daily co-teaching situation that targets identified needs in reading, math, writing or science and there’s a morning homework check-in with parents to provide structured support. She points to an active homework club and book club as other opportunities to increase learning time.
Whittier’s efforts have paid off. The school has received a number of high-performance recognition in recent years. Last spring the school was named a 2015 Honor Roll School by the Educational Results Partnership; last fall, the TEA recognized Whittier as a high performing, high progress campus; and last summer, Whittier was featured in a TEA video series highlighting the best practices of select, high-performing Title I schools.
“What is happening at Whittier is representative of the growth mindset culture we’re creating in our schools,” said Dr. Dana West, AISD Superintendent. “Everyone at Whittier is working with the goal of developing scholars who are thinkers, communicators, collaborators and contributors. The scholars of Whittier serve as a great example of what can be accomplished when the entire school community works together.”
As a Blue Ribbon School nominee, Whittier must now complete a rigorous application process through the U.S. Department of Education. National Blue Ribbon School award winners will be announced in September in Washington, D.C.
South Lawn Elementary is AISD’s most recent Blue Ribbon School, earning the recognition in 2015.
For more information, click here to view the news release from the TEA.