Six Iowa schools are being singled out by the U.S. Department of Education for the prestigious Blue Ribbon Award. Among them, West Lyon High School, near the northwest Iowa town of Inwood. West Lyon principal Doug Jiskoot says it’s a wonderful surprise.
“That puts us in the top ten-percent of schools in the country,” Jiskoot says. “I believe they’re recognizing 419 schools across the country and we’re one of those 419.” Jiskoot says the Blue Ribbon Award is something the whole community can share.
“We have tremendous support from our parents and our students work really hard, not only in academics but in everything, in the sports and the fine arts” Jiskoot says. “Our teachers go all out to support our students and to have a the challenging curriculum and really work hard.” The award goes to schools with high academic achievements or those that show great progress over several years. Jiskoot says everyone in the school district had a hand in winning the award.
He says several of the school’s teachers and staff will go to Washington D.C. in early November to receive the award. Nixon Elementary school in Cedar Rapids also won the award. Principal Kay Coe says it requires a lot of focus. She says it’s working at the student-to-student level, focusing on individual needs, and doing everything they can to make sure that all the students are successful. Coe says they don’t focus on the I-T-B-S in the day-to-day instruction, so they put in measures to see if the students are making it, and then hope it pays off with the tests.
Coe says the award shows they have been on the right track over time. Coe says the state has been tracking the schools I-T-B-S since the start of No Child Left Behind, so it is based on several years of scores. Coe says they announced the award to the school and will do more after the ceremony in November.
Coe will go to the ceremony with another teacher and will come back with a plaque and a flag to designate their Blue Ribbon status, and a committee is looking into how to celebrate to thank everyone for giving them the tools to accomplish what they needed to.
Three other Iowa public schools and one private school won the Blue Ribbon awards: Central Springs Elementary-Manly Campus, North Central Community School District; Earlville Elementary School, Maquoketa Valley Community School District; Horizon Elementary School, Johnston Community School District; and Resurrection School, Dubuque. A complete list of all winners is here.
Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton contributed to this story.