Source: CVDaily Feed

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there are over 100,000 schools in the United States. Of those schools only a select few are recognized as a Blue Ribbon School each year. And one of those is the Edith Bowen Laboratory School in Logan.

A school can be awarded a Blue Ribbon recognition for one of two reasons: as an Exemplary High Performing School (recognized as among the top schools in the state) or an Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing School (making the fastest progress in the state in closing the achievement gap among student subgroups over the past five years).

Edith Bowen was recently recognized as one among 279 public and 50 private schools that received the prestigious honor from the U.S. Department of Education. Discovery Elementary School in Brigham City was also recognized as a high performing school.

“We actually were one of three schools that were picked in the state of Utah because we had actually shown the highest growth in the state for individual students,” says Dr. Dan Johnson, director of Edith Bowen Lab School. “We were among the highest performing schools in the state for overall achievement.

“So at the state level we were really recognized for both. At the federal level they just decided to recognize overall school performance. That’s where our award stands.”

The schools were nominated by the Utah Department of Education based on data and information that was already available. Once they were nominated for the honor, the schools had to undergo a rigorous application process that took several years to complete.

Assistant Principal Julie Moeller says Edith Bowen was not actively trying to achieve the recognition, so being nominated for the Blue Ribbon award came as a total surprise.

“I think most of Dan’s work and his vision wasn’t predicated on whether or not we got this award,” Moeller explains. “He just knew what was best for the school, for the parents, for the teachers, for the kids. For me, it was just sort of a surprising honor, the nomination was, and then to receive the award was even better.”

Moeller says there are three main areas the school has been working on: teacher development, the way teachers teach (including collaboration with other teachers), and level of enthusiasm and engagement from teachers.

Johnson says the journey his school and staff have been on to get to this point started several years ago. He says a journey plan helped identify where the school wanted to go and how it was going to help its students.

“That’s all that we’ve ever wanted,” Johnson says, “is just become a high performing school that meets the needs of all kids. Our journey plan has really laid the whole thing out, it has brought clarity to everyone’s role and how they fit into it, how can they contribute to us becoming a high performing school.”

There are 304 students at Edith Bowen. Although the school is located on the Utah State University campus, Johnson says Edith Bowen is a typical public school and is classified as a Title 1 school because of the number of students who receive free or discounted lunch. He also says 16% of the studentbody is in special education.

Moeller says much of the credit for the award is due to Johnson’s vision for the school.

“When he came here our school was struggling. He took the school and turned it around. It’s been amazing,” she exclaims. “You can ask any teacher on this campus, and probably any parent, the difference is noticeable in the students’ performance, the teacher engagement, just the entire feel of the community and culture of the school has improved so much. So to add this recognition on top of it is this wonderful affirmation.”

“When I think about it it’s affirmation for the kids,” Johnson adds. “We will talk to them and have moments with them where we get to reflect upon them, ‘here is what we are asking you to do and it’s very important. What we’re asking you to do is being recognized on the state level and the national level.’

“I think it’s an affirmation for them that they’re learning and doing the things that they do need to know and be able to do that we recognize in education. I think that’s a big blessing from this whole thing–the kids–because that’s what it’s really about.”

Representatives from Edith Bowen and Discovery Elementary School will be officially recognized and receive their honors at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. on November 8th.

Johnson says Beth Foley, Dean of the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services at USU, plans to hold a special reception for the teachers and faculty of Edith Bowen after they return from Washington, D.C.

“She knows how important this is in the College of Education, where she is the dean, to have this particular unit where we’re teaching teachers how to teach,” says Johnson. “To get this award as a unit in the College of Education is important to her.”

He says nearly 250 prospective teachers come through Edith Bowen every year. A special ceremony is also being planned for the students at Edith Bowen to recognize their efforts and accomplishments as a Blue Ribbon School.