Blue Ribbon National Schools for 2021 include two in Montana

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GREAT FALLS – US Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona on Tuesday recognized 325 schools as National Blue Ribbon Schools, including two in Montana.

The schools in Montana are Cascade Elementary School in Cascade and Ridge View Elementary School in Belgrade.

Recognition is based on a school’s overall academic performance or on progress made in reducing achievement gaps among subgroups of students.

Nomination for Cascade Elementary School says:

Providing students with the ability to develop the self-confidence and skills necessary to reach their full potential is the goal of every teacher and staff at Cascade Elementary. Located in a small farming community at the foot of Montana’s Big Belt Mountains, the 140 students in Kindergarten to Grade 6 benefit from school interventions in small groups so that each child can actively participate in their learning. Regular data meetings are held to keep small groups focused and designed to meet the changing needs of each child.

PAWS expectations (positive attitude, act responsibly, work ethic, show respect) are woven throughout the school day, as every teacher, staff member and student models positive behaviors. The expectations impacted the school by creating an environment of learning, inclusion and pride in the school. As you walk through the halls, you meet smiling faces, warm greetings and positive encouragement. The energy brought by this attitude provides students and staff with the security to take risks, make mistakes, and learn from them.

The nomination for Ridge View Elementary School says:

We are the Ridge View Cubs! We are a small rural school with a big heart and value the success of all students. The foundation of our success begins with building strong relationships with students, families and colleagues. We pride ourselves on a compassionate and honest approach to teaching as well as a collaborative commitment to quality teaching practices. Standards-based teaching is our core practice, with opportunities for differentiation to meet individual student needs. Social and emotional learning is integrated into classrooms through counseling lessons, mindful practices, and multi-level support systems. When students feel supported and secure, they are engaged in the learning process. Ridge View cubs roar! Every student and staff member focuses on respect, organization, lifelong learning and responsibility. We hope these skills extend beyond the walls of Ridge View.

We have learned to use our valuable community resources to continue to provide quality educational experiences to our students. Parent involvement, business partnerships, and community opportunities are paramount in introducing STEM, history, and the real-life application of basic programs such as literacy and math. Providing the best teaching practices to students requires our staff to maintain their professional development. We engage in this effort by providing many opportunities to expand pedagogical knowledge. “Teachers and Learners Week” allows staff members to provide professional development to other staff in our district. Ridge View is a professional learning community, using our integrated expertise to propel us all into the future.

A press release from Cardona indicates that the Blue Ribbon National Schools This award recognizes the hard work of educators, families and communities to “create safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging and engaging content.”

The Department recognizes all schools in one of two performance categories, based on all student scores, subgroup scores, and graduation rates:

  • Top Performing Exemplary Schools are among the best performing schools in their state, based on state assessments or nationally standardized tests.
  • Schools that close the exemplary achievement gaps are among the best performing schools in their state at closing achievement gaps between groups of students in a school and all students.

The program has awarded approximately 10,000 prizes to more than 9,000 schools.

Other Montana schools named Blue Ribbon Schools in recent years:

  • 2013: Manhattan Elementary School, Manhattan
  • 2014: Longfellow Elementary School, Bozeman
  • 2014: Anaconda High School, Anaconda
  • 2015: Margaret Leary School, Butte
  • 2015: Eurêka College, Eurêka
  • 2015: Hellgate Middle Primary School, Missoula
  • 2018: Heck / Quaw Elementary School, Belgrade
  • 2019: Fairfield Fairfield Elementary School
  • 2019: Fort Benton Elementary School, Fort Benton
  • 2019: Hawthorne Elementary School, Missoula
  • 2020: Russell Elementary School, Kalispell
  • 2020: Clancy K-8 Elementary School, Clancy

Up to 420 schools can be nominated each year. The department invites nominations from the Blue Ribbon National Schools by the highest education official in all states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the Department of Defense Education and the Office of the Indian education. Private schools are appointed by the Council for American Private Education.


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