103 episodes

Founded in 1982 by U.S. Secretary of Education Terrel Bell, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program honors exemplary public and private American schools. Each year, elementary, middle, and high schools across the country are recognized for the exemplary academic performance of their students or for making significant improvements in their students’ levels of academic performance.

National Blue Ribbon Schools Awards Program - Podcasts National Blue Ribbon Schools Awards Program

    • Education
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Founded in 1982 by U.S. Secretary of Education Terrel Bell, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program honors exemplary public and private American schools. Each year, elementary, middle, and high schools across the country are recognized for the exemplary academic performance of their students or for making significant improvements in their students’ levels of academic performance.

    Audio: Financial Literacy Programs at Saint Andrew Catholic School

    Audio: Financial Literacy Programs at Saint Andrew Catholic School

    At Saint Andrew Catholic School, parents, teachers and community partners come together to offer students several ways to start thinking about their economic futures. The school hosts an on-campus bank, invites parents in to teach financial and career planning classes, and teachers run a stock market club to introduce students to investing. Principal Robert Sikora explains that “the goal is to teach the value of a dollar and to learn to save.” More than that, though, the programs offer a chance for the whole school community to contribute to students’ futures. “As a principal,” Sikora says, “[people tell you], ‘this is awesome…how did you create this?’ And a lot of it I didn’t create. It was our community that created it together.”



    Scroll down to listen to the audio profile. A transcript is available here.



    Read Saint Andrew Catholic School’s 2021 National Blue Ribbon School application.



    Contact InformationSaint Andrew Catholic SchoolMr. Robert Sikora, Principal at time of Nomination51 Wrights RoadNewtown, PA, 18940-1334

    (215) 968-2685https://www.standrewcec.com/













    Student Demographics 2021











    Number of students PreK-8

    635





    Students eligible for subsidized meals

    1%





    Students receiving special ed services

    3%





    ELL

    0%





    African American students

    2%





    White students

    90%





    Hispanic or Latino students

    4%





    Asian

    3%





    2 or More Races

    1%





    Student mobility rate

    1%

    • 3 min
    Grade Looping at a Rural Elementary School

    Grade Looping at a Rural Elementary School

    Think of your favorite teacher in elementary school – and now imagine how great it would have been to have that teacher for three years instead of just one. That’s what happens at Portland Elementary School in Portland, Arkansas, where upper elementary students loop with their core academic teachers for three years. And since those subjects are also departmentalized, students also get to work with multiple teachers and change classes during the day. In this audio profile, Principal Cristy West explains that this schedule helps “because teachers are better able to build their relationship with their students … they know exactly where students are as far as the skills they’ve mastered or those they need to work on.” Teachers enjoy the system as well, because they have the chance to teach a subject – such as math or science – through three different grade levels. As principal West puts it, “it gives me a lot of insight into … what [teachers] may need, or where they’re most successful and could share that with someone else.”



    Scroll down to listen to the audio profile and learn more about how grade looping works at Portland Elementary School. You can download the transcript here.



    Read Portland Elementary School’s 2021 National Blue Ribbon School application.



    Contact InformationPortland Elementary SchoolMrs. Cristal Clark West, Principal at time of Nomination314 Highway 160 EastPortland, AR, 71663-0008

    (870) 737-4333https://pe.hsdlions.org/













    Student Demographics 2021











    Number of students PreK-5

    149





    Students eligible for subsidized meals

    71%





    Students receiving special ed services

    8%





    ELL

    9%





    African American students

    24%





    White students

    50%





    Hispanic or Latino students

    22%





    2 or More Races

    4%





    Student mobility rate

    3%

    • 3 min
    Audio: John Hancock College Preparatory High School

    Audio: John Hancock College Preparatory High School

    This audio profile shares how at John Hancock College Preparatory High School, educators engage students in rigorous academics and provide strong social-emotional support with the aim of helping them prepare for life after high school. This includes offering two Career and Technical Education options: pre-law, and pre-engineering. The programs give students a taste of what careers as lawyers or engineers might feel like, as well as developing skills that will serve them well in any career path. As Sarah Jane Simons, a pre-law educator, puts it, “you don't have to be interested in a legal profession post high school to get value out of our program as a pre-law student. What it is really giving students is the opportunity to get more practice with real-world problem solving skills, with critical thinking skills, with reasoning, with analysis, with writing, with continued exposure to complex texts.”



    In additional conversations with National Blue Ribbon School Program staff, John Hancock Principal Vanessa Puentes reflected on practices that supported their efforts to close achievement gaps, as well as what outsiders might find surprising about their enrollment model.



    For other schools looking to target achievement gaps, Principal Puentes shared that “Two of the things that we really worked on was that we revised our approach to grading. We became a standards-based grading school, really thinking about the opportunities that students have for re-takes, thinking about the alignment of our assessments to standards so that students are getting feedback that really moves them towards the growth that we want them to achieve.



    “And then another thing was that our instructional leadership team really wanted to define what critical thinking looked like at Hancock. We really had to examine our practices, and think about our curriculum and our alignment vertically but also horizontally. And thinking about what it is that students need in order to really exhibit that.”



    Principal Puentes also emphasized that although John Hancock changed from a neighborhood to a selective enrollment model several years ago, the school still has much in common with its neighborhood school counterparts.



    “There may be a group of people who think, ‘Well, you're selective, you should be successful’. What people don't know about us is that most of our students come from our surrounding community. Most of our parents are bilingual. Our students are about 78% low income, and so although students are coming in through an admissions process, our students are very much reflective of a neighborhood student. And so, it's important for us to really balance both social-emotional well-being, and a challenging and rigorous academic program.”



    Read a transcript of the John Hancock College Preparatory High School audio profile.



    Read John Hancock College Preparatory High School’s 2020 National Blue Ribbon School application.



    Contact InformationJohn Hancock College Preparatory High SchoolMs. Vanessa Puentes Hernandez, Principal at time of Nomination4034 West 56th StreetChicago, IL, 60629-4442

    (773) 535-2413https://www.hancockhs.org//

    • 4 min
    Video: Educating for Democracy: Helping Students Understand the News

    Video: Educating for Democracy: Helping Students Understand the News

    In this video profile, Plainview-Old Bethpage John F. Kennedy High School educators, students, and partners explain how the school has implemented a robust news literacy program, designed to help students learn to thoughtfully examine the many sources of information around them. As one educator puts it, this program “is the way in which [students are] empowered to interrogate the news and, know that they have an informed, accurate understanding.”







    Read the accompanying video Reflection Guide to help prompt further ideas for your school or district context.



    Read a transcript of the Plainview-Old Bethpage John F. Kennedy High School video.



    Read Plainview-Old Bethpage John F. Kennedy High School’s 2020 National Blue Ribbon School application.



    Contact InformationPlainview-Old Bethpage John F. Kennedy High SchoolMr. James Murray, Principal at time of Nomination50 Kennedy DrivePlainview, NY, 11803-4030

    (516) 434-3125

    • 5 min
    Video: Bilingual Education in the Nation’s Capital

    Video: Bilingual Education in the Nation’s Capital

    Oyster-Adams Bilingual School teaches students in grades PK-8 through a school-wide dual language model, providing classes in all subjects (as well as student activities, interventions, and parent engagement) through a mix of English and Spanish. Additionally, students have the opportunity to learn Mandarin beginning in 4th grade. A key element of the school’s success is the strong commitment of all educators to the school’s mission. As school leader Mayra Cruz puts it, “everyone who works at Oyster believes deeply in the dual language model, and regardless of what they teach, they know that they are language teachers”. In this video profile, educators and students explain how dual-language education at Oyster-Adams works, and why they love it so much.







    Read the accompanying video Reflection Guide to help prompt further ideas for your school or district context.



    Read a transcript (in English and Spanish) of the Oyster-Adams Bilingual School video.



    Read Oyster-Adams Bilingual School’s 2020 National Blue Ribbon School application.



    Contact InformationOyster-Adams Bilingual SchoolMrs. Mayra Cruz, Principal at time of Nomination2801 Calvert Street, NWWashington, DC, 20008-2666

    (202) 671-6130

    • 6 min
    Video: George Hersey Robertson School

    Video: George Hersey Robertson School

    At George Hersey Robertson Elementary School, educators and school leaders have worked hard to achieve a balance of consistent instructional practices and flexibility, allowing opportunities for teacher creativity and student choice. As one educator notes, “our writing kind of went from prescriptive one size fits all … and kind of teacher centered … and then it shifted to more time with kids writing and authentic writing.” Their efforts have resulted in a community of students who are supported to see themselves as evolving, multi-dimensional writers, equipped with the skills to persuade their community to action, reflect their feelings in a poem, or thoughtfully provide feedback in peer conferences.







    Read the accompanying video Reflection Guide to help prompt further ideas for your school or district context.



    Read a transcript of the George Hersey Robertson School video.



    Read George Hersey Robertson School’s 2020 National Blue Ribbon School application.



    Contact InformationGeorge Hersey Robertson SchoolMs. Jennifer DeRagon, Principal at time of Nomination227 Cross Street Coventry, CT, 06238-3304

    (860) 742-7341

    • 6 min

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Great program

A great way to nationally recognize high achieving schools. Their website showcases many other videos and podcasts for award winning schools

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