Ozark West Elementary named 2020 Missouri Gold Star School

WEST ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TEACHERS AND STAFF celebrated their school’s selection as a Missouri Gold Star School for 2020 on Aug. 21.

Just one month after being named a Missouri Gold Star School, Ozark West Elementary gained an even bigger title: 2020 Exemplary High Performing National Blue Ribbon School. 

West Elementary Principal Gina McBain said the school’s success derives from its mission to connect, learn and grow to ensure a high-quality education for each student’s future readiness.

“Our focus is on educating the whole child. It is evident in our intentional instruction, focused on the strengths and needs of students. Our teachers are committed to transforming learning environments into spaces that promote best practices to excite and engage students in their learning. Our teachers strive to build positive relationships with one another and with students, creating an atmosphere where teachers and students feel safe in setting goals, trying new strategies, taking risks and collaborating together.”

Dr. Craig Carson, Ozark School District Assistant Superintendent of Learning, said he is proud of the work West Elementary employees have done to craft instruction around the needs of the whole and the individual. 

“Our leadership team and our Board of Education appreciates the hard work employees do around the District,” Carson said. “We are grateful West received this recognition by DESE and now by the Department of Education. What a validation and testament to the energy, love, strategic problem-solving, creativity, innovation and hard work they exhibit for our most valued customers.” 

In the Sept. 24 announcement released by the U.S. Department of Education, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos congratulated the Ozark School District for “helping students prepare for successful futures.”

“The U.S. Department of Education acknowledges your students’ success as an inspiring example of how teachers, parents and community leaders can work together to help students prepare for what comes next,” DeVos said. “I commend you for striving to do what’s right for your students and to personalize instruction to meet your students’ unique needs and strengths. Thank you for what you do to help your students realize their potential and achieve their dreams.”

West Elementary is one of seven Missouri school districts to receive the honor, and the only school in southwest Missouri. This is the first time a school in the Ozark School District has received the national award.

The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program recognizes schools for outstanding academic achievement or for performing at high levels while serving a significant portion of disadvantaged students.

“Every year the U.S. Department of Education seeks out and celebrates great American schools, schools demonstrating that all students can achieve to high levels,” according to the U.S. Department of Education's website. “The National Blue Ribbon School award affirms the hard work of students, educators, families and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging content.”

The National Blue Ribbon Schools program recognizes individual schools for either their outstanding academic achievement (top 15 percent in the state based on assessment scores and graduation rates) or their performance at high academic levels while serving a significant proportion of disadvantaged students.

“Congratulations to these students, teachers, and school staff members for this tremendous accomplishment,” said Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven. “The hard work in these schools not only readies students for long-term success, but it brings great pride to each of these communities as a whole.”

The 2020 National Blue Ribbon Schools award ceremony will be held virtually Nov. 12 and 13.

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