Four Campuses in Dallas Named Blue Ribbon Schools

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Four school campuses in the Dallas area received the honor of being named National Blue Ribbon Schools. These schools were recognized last week for having high academic performance and closing gaps in achievement.

The four campuses are Dallas ISD’s Trinidad “Trini” Garza Early College High School at Mountain View, Kathlyn Joy Gilliam Collegiate Academy, Mesquite ISD’s Porter Elementary School, and Christ the King Catholic School in Dallas.

A total of 26 schools in Texas were recognized. Campuses are chosen by student performance on standardized tests or the progress they have made in closing performance gaps.

“Today, 26 different Texas schools received 2021 National Blue Ribbon honors!” The Texas Education Agency posted to their Twitter last Tuesday. “The National Blue Ribbon designation further validates that there are amazing things happening on TX school campuses each and every day.”

Garza principal Macario Hernandez told The Dallas Morning News that the Blue Ribbon is “validation for all the hard work of our teachers and our students and our parents.”

Garza and Gilliam’s students can earn college credit at the same time they are completing high school. Hernandez said many of them will become first-generation college students.

According to The Dallas Morning News, over 85% of Garza and Gilliam’s families struggle financially. There are 432 students, with 88% Hispanic and around 8% Black.

Hernandez said this honor is also a way to celebrate students’ and teachers’ accomplishments despite the Covid-19 pandemic. The principal said staff members value students’ racial backgrounds, culture, and lived experiences to build valuable relationships.

“It’s a family that really builds on each other’s strengths,” Hernandez said. “Humility and valuing and respecting and working with people with compassion and empathy can go a long way.”

The principal of Gilliam, Gayle Ferguson Rodgers, told Dallas Morning News that their Blue Ribbon recognition proves a school can excel despite having an at-risk population.

She said, “This award is a celebration of everyone’s efforts as we do our mission here at Gilliam, which is to have college access and success for all.”

Ferguson said it was never their goal to receive Blue Ribbon recognition, but they strive to follow their mission each day.

Porter Elementary Principal Leeann Englert released a statement about the Mesquite school receiving the honor. “Everyone is deeply invested in the success of our children,” she said.

There were a total of 302 public schools and 23 private schools honored across the country with National Blue Ribbon recognition. Over the past 39 years, the program has honored over 9,000 schools.

In a recent statement released by the U.S. Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona congratulated those that received the 2021 Blue Ribbon honors in light of the pandemic.

“I commend all our Blue Ribbon honorees for working to keep students healthy and safe while meeting their academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs,” Cardona said. “In the face of unprecedented circumstances, you found creative ways to engage, care for, protect, and teach our children.”

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