Navarro Elementary (Geronimo, Texas) has been named a 2021 National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education.
The designation was announced yesterday by U.S. Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona. Out of all the schools in the United States, 325 schools were recognized as National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2021. Only 26 schools in Texas were awarded.
The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program recognizes outstanding public and non-public schools, according to the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program website. The program celebrates school excellence, school transformation, and the elimination of achievement gaps between student subgroups.
Navarro Elementary Principal, Laurel Wilson, says that “The success of Navarro Elementary comes from a combination of long-lasting relationships, knowing student backgrounds, and prescriptive instruction to meet individual needs. The positive language shared across the campus sets the tone for crucial conversations, modeling behavior, and high expectations”.
Superintendent Wendi Russell called the award the “most prestigious academic honor a school can receive.” Being named a National Blue Ribbon School is not about one grade level or state test. It takes all staff to set high expectations, ensure that all students have a strong foundation in Reading and Math and to build relationships with parents and community members.
“A National Blue Ribbon title speaks volumes about all our staff, students, and parents at Navarro ISD,” she said.
National Blue Ribbon Schools are on education’s cutting edge, pioneering innovative educational practices from professional learning communities and project-based learning to social and emotional learning and positive behavior systems. Schools are nominated by the state department of education and then complete a comprehensive application about school practices.
“It was really exciting for me to get a phone call from the Texas Education Agency last spring,” Russell said.
Schools may be nominated as Exemplary High Performing — among the top schools in a state — or Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing — schools making the fastest progress in their state in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups. Navarro Elementary was nominated as Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing.
“This year’s cohort of honorees demonstrates what is possible when committed educators and school leaders create vibrant, welcoming, and affirming school cultures where rich teaching and learning can flourish,” Cardona said in a release.
When asked what makes Navarro Elementary stand out, Mrs. Wilson said “Faculty and staff members spent considerable time reflecting on the district vision and how that translates into the campus vision and the school’s actions. Staff identified multiple areas of success, while developing plans for continued improvement. Regardless of the role of the staff member, a unified strength was identified above all others for the campus. Strong relationships are what set Navarro Elementary apart from any other school. Teachers and staff provided endless examples of moments where they had supported one another during a difficult time or where staff had gone above and beyond to form a close relationship with a challenging student to help them be more successful. Low teacher turnover on the campus results in teachers who have a long-lasting history with local families and the community. There is often an outside connection that links teachers and families together because of the longevity of the relationships that have been formed over the years. These extended personal connections, as well as frequent teacher check-ins, help establish trust and reliability beyond the school walls. Students who come to Navarro Elementary become part of the fold. Student success becomes a collective goal that each of the staff members strives to achieve. While the impact of COVID has temporarily changed the look of school, the importance of reaching the whole child has not changed. When students walk into the front doors of the school, they can feel assured that every adult on campus has their individual needs and interests at heart, and that a pandemic will not get in the way of their success. This feeling, that many students and families cannot articulate or describe with words, is part of the Navarro tradition, and a key factor to the success and continued growth of the school”.
School officials will represent Navarro Elementary at a two-day awards ceremony on Nov. 4-5 in Washington, D.C., where they will hear from other esteemed educators, share best practices with each other and celebrate their hard-won achievements. There, they will receive a plaque and flag to signify its exemplary status.
Photographs and brief descriptions of the 2021 National Blue Ribbon Schools are available at https://www.nationalblueribbonschools.ed.gov/.