Pender Public Schools Superintendent Jason Dolliver comments on receiving the Blue Ribbon Award.
According to the Nebraska Department of Education, Pender Elementary School was one of four Nebraska schools to be named as a National Blue Ribbon School for 2017.
The recognition is based on a school’s overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups.
A total of 342 schools received the honor nationwide, with the other Nebraska schools honored being Calvert Elementary in Auburn, Dundee Elementary in Omaha and Paddock Road Elementary in Omaha.
Pender Public Schools Superintendent Jason Dolliver says the award is due in part to a great staff.
“I think it speaks to the group of people that we have on staff up here in Pender, and it does extend beyond the elementary staff. We have a top notch group of teachers, paras and everybody that works here at the school, and they are to be congratulated,” Dolliver said. “The other piece of the puzzle, we have such a supportive community and group of parents that we get to work with. Which, when schools and their communities work together, they have a great chance of having a lot of success and I think that’s exactly what we’re seeing up here in Pender.”
According to a press release from the Nebraska Department of Education, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program honors public and private elementary, middle and high schools where students achieve very high learning standards or are making notable improvements in closing the achievement gap.
All Schools are honored in one of two performance categories, based on all student scores, subgroup student scores and graduation rates:
-Exemplary High Performing Schools are among their state’s highest performing schools as measured by state assessments or nationally named tests.
-Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing Schools are among their state’s highest performing schools in closing achievement gaps between a school’s subgroups and all students over the past five years.
Dolliver says he believes specific reading and math programs and Pender Public Schools helped contribute to their academic success.
“Probably one of the most impactful programs that we have had in place probably for the last about five or six years, is called the Guided Reading Program. That is a program that teachers work with students at their instructional level,” Dolliver said. “On the math side, we did implement some new resources last year which I think helped out. And also we’ve departmentalized, which allows some of those teachers to focus in the areas in which they’re most comfortable, and I think those are a couple of things that have had an impact.”
Dolliver added that it feels great for a small town rural school like Pender to be able to compete academically with much larger schools not only in Nebraska, but nationwide as well.
“It makes us feel great. We’ve had some neighbors get this award here in the last couple of years, and I think what it shows is, in rural Nebraska, we have high quality education. As good as any educational opportunity that is out there, and Pender is one of those schools,” Dolliver said. “We have neighbors who are in that same boat. And like I said, biggest piece of the puzzle is, education out here in rural Nebraska is high, high quality. We are very proud of what we do and we’re glad to be able to educate as many students as we can.
Dolliver said a celebration in recognition of the award is planned within the next few weeks.