Of the hundreds of thousands of public and private elementary, middle, and high schools across the United States, only a handful, comparatively, earn a spot in the U.S. Department of Education’s esteemed National Blue Ribbon Schools Program. Securing its name on this year’s elite list of schools nationwide, Arcadia Unified’s Longley Way Elementary School has been named a 2019 National Blue Ribbon School.
“Longley Way teachers and staff work incredibly hard every day to provide the best on all fronts for our students, so it was a very proud moment when we found out we were receiving this recognition,” shared Longley Way Elementary School Principal Travis Long. “We are fortunate to have so many opportunities in our district [Arcadia Unified] to collaborate with and learn from all of our elementary schools, middle schools, and our high school, so, to me, this title is a reflection of how great our district is as a whole.”
In its 37th year of conducting the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program, the U.S. Department of Education selects schools from across the country that are demonstrating it is possible for all students to reach high levels of academic excellence.
Adding to the prestige of the award, it’s an invite-only application process. Schools are first nominated by their Chief State School Officer and may only apply upon receiving an invitation from the U.S. Department of Education.
“When I heard our school was applying for the National Blue Ribbon award, I felt very proud and honored to be a part of the process,” said Longley Way 4th grade teacher and Blue Ribbon application committee member Krista Davidson.
“Our team of teachers and staff devoted many hours in completing the rigorous application because we wanted to embrace the opportunity to show our country that Longley Way is not only special and exemplary because of our amazing programs and academics but also because we have a community of teachers, staff, families, and students who care for each other and strive to see everyone in our community grow,” said Davidson.
According to the U.S. Department of Education’s website, schools selected as Blue Ribbon Schools have these common themes:
- Blue Ribbon School leaders not only articulate a vision of excellence and hold everyone to high standards, but they stay close to the real action of teaching and learning.
- Mutual respect and trust run deep in the school’s culture.
- Faculty are supported by mentoring and professional development and have time to coordinate their work.
- Data from many sources drive adaptations to support every student.
- Families and educators work together in trust.
“As a National Blue Ribbon School, your students’ success demonstrates what’s possible when committed educators partner with parents and community leaders to create vibrant, challenging cultures of learning,” elaborated U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in a video message to this year’s Blue Ribbon award recipients on what it means to receive this honor.
In addition to being identified as exemplary by the U.S. Department of Education, Longley Way, which was recognized as a California Distinguished School last year, joins a team of Arcadia Unified schools that has remained committed to educating the “whole child” in its 360-degree approach to student support. Last year, Arcadia Unified’s Board of Education committed to providing a full-time school counselor at each of its six elementary schools to help further support and provide proactive approaches to student mental health and wellness. Likewise, the district also offers character education programs, such as “The Leader in Me” for students in TK-8 grade, and has adopted “restorative practices,” which are techniques geared towards building strong, trusting relationships and community in classrooms and schools.
Arcadia Unified was also recently named by Niche as being in the top 1% of the overall best school districts, school districts with the best teachers, and best places to teach in America, California, and Los Angeles and is home to the 2019 California History Teacher of the Year, and one of 16 Los Angeles County 2019 Teachers of the Year.
Longley Way Elementary will receive its official Blue Ribbon award hardware at a ceremony to be held in Washington D.C., on Nov. 14. More information on the Blue Ribbon Schools Program may be accessed on the U.S. Department of Education website, and for further details about Arcadia Unified, visit ausd.net.