Canaan Elementary School and Gilmanton School are being recognized as among the greatest schools in the country
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recognized 335 schools as National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2015, based on their overall academic excellence or their progress in improving student academic achievement. The program recognizes schools in one of two performance categories. The first category is “Exemplary High Performing,” in which schools are recognized among their state’s highest performing schools, as measured by state assessments or nationally-normed tests. The second category is “Exemplary Improving,” in which schools that have at least 40 percent of their students from disadvantaged backgrounds demonstrate the most progress in improving student achievement levels as measured by state assessments or nationally-normed tests. Canaan Elementary School and Gilmanton School were chosen as “Exemplary High Performing” schools.
“We are pleased that Canaan Elementary School and Gilmanton School are being recognized as among the greatest schools in the country,” said Commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Education, Virginia M. Barry, Ph.D. “Schools across New Hampshire are demonstrating that all students can achieve to high levels. These two schools represent all the excellent schools in New Hampshire that are working hard to improve achievement for all students.”
Award Winners Summaries
Tucked between the Connecticut River and the peaks of Mt. Cardigan, the Canaan Elementary School is located in a rural setting, serving students in grades PK-4 from the communities of Canaan, Dorchester, Grafton, and Orange, NH. We are a family- and community-oriented school with a marvelous blend of veteran and new staff, all working together to support each other and to ensure success for each student academically, socially, emotionally, and physically. With a strong focus on respect, responsibility, and safety, CES students are fully engaged participants in their learning, and we are proud of the accomplishments they have made over the past several years, as shown by our consistently high scores in the NH State assessments. Teachers at CES have worked diligently to align curriculum with Common Core Standards and have designed and implemented formative assessments that help us discover gaps in student learning so they may be addressed. Our students love being tested, so the y can show us what they know! They are proud of each step in their progress, celebrating not only their own growth, but the growth of each of their peers. Teachers have also become strong school and district leaders, and have opened up their classrooms to each other, seeking feedback that will help them grow as well. Meeting as grade-level teams on a regular basis, our staff have truly become a professional learning community. Parents and community members support the school in many ways, and we are proud of the relationships we have built.
Gilmanton School sits beside a rural highway in the center of a small town in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire. Gilmanton takes pride in its rural character, steeped in historical landmarks, one-room schoolhouses, stately colonial homes, and stone-walled enclosures. In fact, many students are descendants of the original town residents, and they have strong links to the local farm industry. Gilmanton School has a welcoming atmosphere built around a culture of collaboration and shared leadership. This present-day culture is a shift from ten years ago when low test scores and poor morale were the norm. The professional staff worked hard to analyze the root cause of poor student performance and they became actively involved in aligning curriculum and using data to focus on students instructional needs. Personalization has become the heart of Gilmanton Schools instructional philosophy. Differentiation is central to this instructional approach, and grade-level teams meet frequentl y to discuss student progress. Each grade is assigned daily literacy and math blocks, during which students are placed in small groups for skill-based instruction. All available personnel work with students of varying abilities during these blocks, reinforcing school-wide inclusion. Mastery of skills is the ultimate goal for each student. Gilmanton residents support the school by making budgetary decisions that have a positive effect on the education of the children. Community members enrich school programs by sharing expertise and time with the children. Student test scores have steadily improved in this culture of collaboration and personalization. More important, students are learning.
Each year since 1982, the U. S. Department of Education seeks out and celebrates great American schools, schools demonstrating that all students can achieve to high levels. The National Blue Ribbon School award affirms the hard work of students, educators, families, and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging content. These Blue Ribbon Schools are an example of what teachers and students can achieve.
The principal and one teacher from each school are invited to celebrate the honor at an awards ceremony scheduled for November 9th and 10th in Washington, D.C. Each school will receive an award plaque and a flag as symbols of their accomplishments. The award flag gracing an entry or flying overhead is a widely recognized symbol of exemplary teaching and learning.
For more information about this and other award/recognition programs coordinated through the Department of Education log on to www.education.nh.gov/recognition/index.htm.
The news release from the US Department of Education can be found at www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/us-education-secretary-arne-duncan-announces-2015-national-blue-ribbon-schools.