Ronald McNair Elementary School in Germantown has been selected a 2017 National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE). The winners of the award were announced on Thursday, Sept. 28.
McNair is one of six schools in Maryland and two in Montgomery County to earn the National Blue Ribbon title. The other MCPS school is Farmland Elementary School in Rockville.
The National Blue Ribbon program recognizes public and private schools based on their overall academic excellence or their progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups. The students in each of these schools are high achievers in reading and mathematics, and many serve a significant number of economically disadvantaged students. McNair and Farmland are the 38th and 39th schools in MCPS to be named National Blue Ribbon Schools.
“Congratulations to the entire Ronald McNair and Farmland elementary school communities on being named National Blue Ribbon Schools,” said Superintendent of Schools Jack Smith. “Outstanding teaching is the crux of high levels of learning. It is clear that this has led to great results for our children. We are so proud of this wonderful accomplishment.”
Both schools were named Maryland Blue Ribbon Schools in December 2016, qualifying them for consideration as National Blue Ribbon Schools. Other state winners also receiving national honors are: Shipley’s Choice Elementary School, Anne Arundel County; Sunderland Elementary School, Calvert County; Centerville Elementary School, Frederick County; and Manor Woods Elementary School in Howard County. In addition, seven nonpublic schools in Maryland are being honored.
Ronald McNair, 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 its students proficient or advanced in 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, K through 5th grades.
In May 2016, McNair Elementary celebrated being named a Maryland Blue Ribbon School with a visit from Dr. Karen Salmon, State Superintendent of Schools, as well as Dr. Jack Smith, Superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools; Michael Durso, President other Montgomery County Board of Education; Del. David Hidalgo-Fraser (District 15); and Dr. Darla Strouse, Director, Blue Ribbon Schools;
McNair was ranked as the 11th best public elementary school in the state of Maryland, and top in MCPS for the 2015 NICHE Ranking of Best Schools. As a fourth-year Positive Behavioral Inventions and Supports (PBIS) school, classes mark progress with coupons, awards and quarterly town hall meetings. The school was awarded the prestigious Bronze Award for its implementation of PBIS and is a professional development school with Towson University, training up to 15 teachers each year.
“It starts with the kids,” McNair’s Principal Sherilyn Moses to Germantown Pulse back in May, “We tell them all the time, ‘Work hard. Be nice.’ This is an honor to their hard work. I tell them that you want to SOAR when no one is looking. You have been working hard, and now the world recognizes you, or at least the State of Maryland. It helps them to give them extra motivation. If you work hard, it does pay off.”
At McNair, which is named to honor the American physicist and NASA astronaut, Ronald McNair, who died during the launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1986, to SOAR takes on a special meaning. To S.O.A.R., McNair students know that they have to be Safe; Organized; Actively Learning; and Respectful. All students are reminded of these expectations on a daily basis. McNair students say the S.O.A.R. pledge every morning during morning announcements, according to Moses.
The United States Department of Education recognized 342 schools as National Blue Ribbon winners for 2017. McNair, Farmland and the other honorees will be honored at recognition ceremonies on Nov. 6–7 in Washington, D.C.
Top: McNair Elementary School on Hopkins Road in Germantown has been named a 2017 National Blue Ribbon School.
Next: Back in May MCPS Superintendent Dr. Jack Smith congratulated the students and staff of McNair ES on being named a Maryland Blue Ribbon School.
Photos by Germantown Pulse.