Woodland School has been named a 2017 National Blue Ribbon School, one of only five public elementary schools in Somerset County to receive the prestigious recognition in the program’s 35- year history.
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos made the announcement in Washington, D.C. on September 28, 2017.
“National Blue Ribbon Schools are active demonstrations of preparing every child for a bright future,” DeVos said in the announcement, live streamed to Woodland’s library media center for staff to view. “You are visionaries, innovators and leaders. You have much to teach us: some of you personalize student learning, others engage parents and communities in the work and life of your local schools and still others develop strong and forward-thinking leaders from among your teaching staff.”
Woodland School received the Blue Ribbon Schools award in the category of “exemplary high performing schools.”
“The prestigious Blue Ribbon award is the result of years of remarkable educators who do everything that it takes to ensure that the students of Woodland are successful,” says Jeffrey Heaney, who joined the district as principal of Woodland in 2014. “While academic achievement, engaging lessons and high performance on standardized assessments are all important at Woodland, we are so much more than numbers, so much more than books, and so much more than tests and quizzes. The staff, students and parents truly deserve the highest honor bestowed upon them. I am privileged and proud to work alongside such remarkable people.”
Created in 1982, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program recognizes outstanding public and non-public school achievement for overall academic excellence and/or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups. To be nominated, a school has to demonstrate high or strongly improving student scores on state or national normed assessments in the last year tested, as well as meet annual measurable objectives.
Specifically, the performance of all tested students in a school in both reading and mathematics has to be in the top 15 percent of all schools in New Jersey in the most recent year tested. Additionally, for each of a school’s student subgroups, the performance of all tested students in a subgroup in both reading and math must be in the top 40 percent of all schools statewide.
“This honor is well deserved for the entire Woodland School community, past and present. Without consistent expectations for excellence shared among students, staff, administration, and parents over the years, such a recognition could not occur,” says Superintendent Matthew Mingle. “This is an exciting day not only for Woodland School but for all of us in the Warren Township Schools.”
“We are filled with pride for Woodland School. This award recognizes the extraordinary talent of our staff, the hard work of our students, and the ongoing involvement of our parent community,” adds Warren Township Board of Education president Tia Allocco. “The achievement affirms the high quality of education we deliver to the children of Woodland Elementary School, and all of our schools, on a daily basis. We celebrate the Blue Ribbon Award with the entire Warren community whose commitment to our schools has been vital to our success.”
Principal Heaney and one other staff member will travel to the nation’s capital on November 6-7, 2017 to accept the award on behalf of the school during a special Blue Ribbon ceremony.
Nine public schools across New Jersey earned the Blue Ribbon designation.
“I want to congratulate these nine New Jersey public schools for being selected as National Blue Ribbon Schools, the highest recognition bestowed by the United States Department of Education,” says New Jersey Education Commissioner Kimberley Harrington. “These schools area being honored thanks to the dedication of their teachers, administrators, students, and school communities working together to achieve educational excellence.”
Woodland will hold a local celebration before the end of the year for the school community to honor all those who contributed over the years. Additionally, a districtwide event is planned for next spring to recognize the district’s excellence as a whole.
Photo by Warren Township Schools