A Kodiak school has been recognized as one of the top schools in the nation in terms of academic excellence. Peterson Elementary School was one of only three schools in Alaska to be designated as a Blue Ribbon School for 2014 – an honor awarded by the U.S. Department of Education to K-12 schools throughout the U.S.
Principal Beth Cole said this is the first time Peterson has received this recognition, and it took almost a full year to work through the nomination and application process. She said the school was nominated for the award in January, based on its Alaska School Performance Index scores.
“So we did realize that we made gains and we recognized our high achievement, but we also had to maintain another year of high achievement to actually receive this award.”
In addition maintaining high scores, the school also had to submit a thorough application to the U.S. Department of Education. From there, Cole said it was a long waiting game, but last week U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced the 2014 Blue Ribbon Schools, and Peterson made the cut.
Two other schools have received a Blue Ribbon Award in the past. In 2005 Main Elementary was awarded and North Star was recognized in 2008.
Kerry Irons worked at Peterson for a number of years and helped the school with its application last spring. She now works as an enrichment and intervention coordinator for the district, but said she is honored to have been a part of the process and thinks it really speaks of the quality of education here in Kodiak.
“People want to know what the schools are like in the community that they go to and certainly our population here at Peterson is very interested in knowing what the quality of the schools are – I think that’s something people pay a lot of attention to. And coming to a community like Kodiak where there are four elementary schools in town and three of them have received this honor is pretty strong indication of a very dedicated teaching staff and a community that really honors and values education.”
Kim Raisley is a kindergarten teacher at Peterson and said the award is a great way to recognize her fellow teachers at the school and all the hard work they do for students.
“Every day, year round, six to seven days a week. So I think it’s just a great honor.”
Cole added that it’s not just teachers who should feel proud of the national recognition.
“You have to have an excellent group of parents and volunteers that are willing to come in and help out. You have to have kids that are happy to come to school and willing to work and make good choice. And we just have to celebrate those things.”)
Cole and Raisley will travel to Washington D.C. in November to accept the award in person at a recognition ceremony. Raisley was nominated to represent Peterson with Cole by her fellow teachers.
Each school awarded will receive a plaque and a flag to symbolize their status as National Blue Ribbon Schools. This year 337 schools throughout the nation will be awarded, some for academic achievement and others for closing their achievement gaps.
Cole said she hopes to plan a school assembly or celebration of sorts when they return.