By GINA KINSLOW
Glasgow Daily Times
Gamaliel Elementary in Monroe County is one of five public schools statewide that have been designated as a National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education.
“It’s overwhelming,” said Christie Biggerstaff, principal of GES. “It’s very humbling to have this kind of attention.”
The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program honors public and private schools that are either high-performing schools or are schools that have at least 40 percent of their students coming from disadvantaged backgrounds that have improved their student performance to high levels as measured by state assessment or nationally-normed exams. All five of Kentucky’s newest Blue Ribbon Schools meet the requirements for being high-performing schools, stated a Kentucky Department of Education press release.
To be named a National Blue Ribbon School just validates the hard work the staff does every day, said Biggerstaff.
“It’s just someone saying you’re doing great,” she said. “All the hard work is worth it and I think that’s what means the most.”
As for the students at GES, Biggerstaff said, they are “just over the moon.”
The school learned in 2010 that GES had been nominated for the status.
“The students knew it would be any day that we would get the word if we had made it,” Biggerstaff said.
The school broke the news to the students Friday afternoon.
Dr. Michael Carter, chairman of the Monroe County Board of Education, called the designation “a great honor.”
“They do a great job down there,” he said.
According to a press release from the Monroe County school system, GES has an 80 percent free/reduced lunch rate, which is an indicator of socio-economic poverty.
Some schools use a poor socio-economic status as an excuse for not doing well on state assessment exams, but for GES that’s not an issue, Carter said.
“They are excelling, so there is something going right down there,” he said. “I think they’ve done great.”
Lewis Carter, superintendent of Monroe County schools, also praised the school’s faculty and staff for the accomplishment and said he was proud that a school with a population of 437 could accomplish such a feat.
“You know it takes the whole community,” he said. “It takes all the teachers and the support staff and the principals and especially those wonderful students to make it happen.”
Other public schools that were named Blue Ribbon Schools were: North Middletown Elementary in the Bourbon County school system; W.R. McNeill Elementary in the Bowling Green Independent School District; Woodfill Elementary in the Ft. Thomas Independent School District and Southside Elementary in the Pike County school system. Mary Queen of the Holy Rosary School in Lexington was named a Blue Ribbon School in the nonpublic school category, stated the KDE press release.
The National Blue Ribbon school program selected 305 schools (including 256 public) for their 2011 designees with the official ceremony set for Nov. 14-15 in Washington, D.C., stated a press release from the Monroe County school system.