Six Maryland public schools were selected as 2016-17 Maryland Blue Ribbon Schools earlier this week, among them was Ronald McNair Elementary School in Germantown. Farmland Elementary School in Rockville was also selected.
“The Maryland Blue Ribbon Schools represent the thoughtful work taking place at public schools throughout our State, as they prepare students for the next grade or the next step in life,” said Dr. Karen Salmon, State Superintendent of Schools. “When schools succeed at this level it is a tribute to all: students, teachers, administrators, and community members. They all deserve our congratulations and admiration.”
Farmland and McNair will now compete for the National Blue Ribbon Schools award.
“Farmland and Ronald McNair elementary schools are great examples of how highly engaged staff, students and communities work together to produce excellent results,” said Michael Durso, president of the Montgomery County Board of Education. “This award is a fitting recognition for the outstanding work being done by so many at these schools.”
The Blue Ribbon Schools Program recognizes and honors schools that exhibit high performance and/or significant improvement in reading and mathematics achievement as measured by Maryland assessments. Schools must meet other rigorous standards developed by MSDE and the U.S. Department of Education (USDE), including school leadership, professional development, and instructional approaches based on school-age population.
“Farmland and Ronald McNair are doing exceptional work to meet the educational needs of all its students,” said Superintendent Jack Smith. “This award recognizes their hard work and commitment to ensuring success for all students and I want to congratulate the staff, students and parents on this well-deserved recognition.”
Ronald McNair Elementary School is located at 13881 Hopkins Road, with an enrollment of 875 students, has a diverse population that includes economically disadvantaged, ESOL, and special education students. The school has made strides in achievement with more than 62 percent of students who are proficient or advanced in both math and English/language arts. The school’s Home School Model program has special education students fully included in co-taught classes at all grade levels, kindergarten through 5th grades.
“I am so proud to be the principal of this school and this Blue Ribbon Award is a recognition of the tireless efforts of our staff and the hard work and determination of our students and parents,” Principal Sherry Moses said. “We will continue to ensure that all of our students receive the education and support they need to thrive today and in the future.”
“As the principal of Ronald McNair, I am excited for the staff, students, and community to be able to have their hard work and commitment acknowledged. It reaffirms for the staff that they are making a difference in the lives of their students,” said Moses. She added that the students can expect a popcorn and cookie party in celebration of their hard work.
However, she continued that “the bigger message to the students is our previous focus on discourse, and current focus of goal setting and feedback are helping them achieve at higher levels. Students are able to see that their hard work is not only being acknowledged by their teachers and parents, but now by the state. Everyone is working really hard to make our students successful, and it is wonderful to have that recognized.”
McNair Elementary is in its fourth year as part of PBIS program, which is a national program that focuses on schoolwide discipline with an emphasis on a schoolwide systems of support that include proactive strategies for defining, teaching, and supporting appropriate student behaviors to create positive school environments. The school was awarded the prestigious Bronze Award for its implementation of PBIS.
“At McNair, we tell students PBIS stands for Positive Behavior In School and that we S.O.A.R. to success,” said Moses. “To S.O.A.R., students know that they have to be Safe; Organized; Actively Learning; and Respectful. All students are reminded of these expectations on a daily basis, as we say our S.O.A.R. pledge every morning during our morning announcements.”
"Our McNair family is so proud of our school for receiving this high honor," said Kristen Gorman, president of the McNair Elementary School PTA. "Our teachers and staff are second to none and to see them recognized for what they do every day is just awesome. We couldn’t be more proud of them."
McNair was ranked as the 11th best public elementary school in the state of Maryland, and top in Montgomery County Public Schools for the 2015 NICHE Ranking of Best Schools.
As state winners, Ronald McNair along with five other schools will now compete in the National Blue Ribbon Awards program. Other winners are: Shipley’s Choice Elementary in Anne Arundel County; Sunderland Elementary School in Calvert County; Centerville Elementary School in Frederick County; and Manor Woods Elementary School in Howard County.
The National Blue Ribbon Schools will be announced in September 2017 by the U.S. Department of Education. MCPS has 37 National Blue Ribbon Schools, the most recent being Cashell Elementary School in 2014.
Ronald McNair and the other winning schools will receive a Maryland Blue Ribbon flag, a monetary prize, an interactive whiteboard and a schoolwide party. A dinner in Annapolis will be held in honor of the winning schools next spring.
Top: Ronald McNair Elementary School on Hopkins Road in Germantown has been named a Maryland Blue Ribbon School. Photo by Germantown Pulse.
Next: The staff and students at McNair Elementary celebrate the announcement of the Blue Ribbon selection. Photo courtesy Greg Edmundson.