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Nooksack Elementary Recognized as National Blue Ribbon School

The incredible work of teachers and staff at Nooksack Elementary School and the determination shown by the students has landed the school as one of only 349 across the nation to receive the coveted National Blue Ribbon School award for 2018. The recognition is based on a school’s overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups.

This is the second time Nooksack Elementary has earned the Blue Ribbon honor, the first was in 2005.

“This national recognition shows the dedication of our teachers and staff to continually hold high expectations for every student while also providing a high level of support,” says first-year principal Katie Brown. “But it also shows that our students have resiliency and strive to learn and grow.”

Awarded by the U.S. Department of Education, the Blue Ribbon award affirms the hard work of educators, families and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging and engaging content. “I’m pleased to celebrate with you as your school is named a National Blue Ribbon School,” says Betsy DeVos, U.S. Secretary of Education, in a video message to the honorees. “We recognize and honor your important work in preparing students for successful careers and meaningful lives.”

Nooksack Elementary, which was led by Cindy Tjoelker as principal last year, serves approximately 400 students in grades Pre-K through 5, with the entire school community committed to mentoring and supporting the academic and social development of each student.

The diverse student population includes 33 percent Latino, 58 percent free and reduced lunch, 18 percent ELL and 13 percent special education. Tjoelker says that encouraging every student to raise their personal aspirations to have “pictures of hope in their heads” and look to their future with promise provided an opportunity allowing students to fulfill a growth mindset.

“We believe that reading and writing are essential partners in a balanced literacy program,” she says. “If you walk into any classroom at Nooksack Elementary, you will see mini-lessons, occurring, student choice and independence. Guided by the Common Core Standards, students learn math content as well as mathematical practices to deepen their problem solving, reasoning and communication of their thinking.”

Now in its 36th year, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has bestowed recognition on more than 8,800 schools.

On Nov. 7-8, the 300 public and 49 private school honorees for 2018 have a chance for recognition at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. Tjoelker and third-grade teacher Marsha Graham will attend to represent Nooksack Elementary.