By Kathy Hanson
Ames Community School District
Director of School, Community and Media Relations
Meeker Elementary School staff and students started their day on a blue note Wednesday morning.
They came to school wearing blue to celebrate the news that U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has recognized Meeker Elementary School as a National Blue Ribbon School. One of five Iowa Schools the U.S. Department of Education selected this year, Meeker received an award in the “exemplary high performing category,” based on progress in achieving high learning standards.
“This award is a testament to the skill and dedication of our teachers and staff, and the hard work of our students,” said Principal Steve Flynn. “Like all the schools in the district, we’ve been making changes to our instruction and our school culture to keep getting better. We feel very good about the progress we are making; it’s nice when others notice as well,” he said.
Flynn said Meeker Elementary School’s student achievement data got the U.S. Department of Education’s attention, but the story of how the school attains its results also stood out during the application process that followed its nomination for the award last year.
“Our instructional strategies are helping us make gains,” he said. “But our learning climate also contributes to our success,” he said.
To be eligible for the award, Meeker Elementary School students must rank in the top 15 percent in the state for proficiency in reading and math, and students in demographic subgroups must perform comparably to their peers.
Flynn credits the staff and teachers, who use the Responsive Classroom model consistently to strengthen the school community, help students learn responsibility and foster positive behaviors in the classroom and playground.
Associate Superintendent Mandy Ross said the recognition speaks to the “hard work that Principal Steve Flynn, the teachers, and the staff have demonstrated in the use of methods being implemented district-wide to address the needs of each student through additional instruction time and data-based, differentiated instructional strategies.”
Since 1982, the Blue Ribbon Schools Program has recognized public and private elementary, middle and high schools where students perform at very high levels or where schools make significant improvements in students' levels of academic achievement.