There are moments in life that are special to you personally. There are moments in life that are special because they impact those that you love. And, there are moments in life that are special because they reach to the soul of who you are in service of others. The 2014 National Blue Ribbon School Award is one that not only touches who I am as an educator but also what we represent as a high quality, high performing charter school. It epitomizes the very fabric of excellence that was the intent of the vision and mission, and the charge that was given me when accepting this position.
For those of you who do not know the extent of the 2104 National Blue Ribbon School Award, let me give you some background. It was started in 1982 by then Secretary of Education Terrell Bell to highlight the achievement of elementary, middle, and high schools across the United States, including the U.S. Military Schools found around the world. It is given to schools that, over a period of five years show consistent exemplary achievement and/or exemplary improvement in all segments of the education program. Schools become eligible to be repeat winners in five years and several have that distinction.
With this said, Lake Oconee Academy has shown this high achievement over the past five years and was selected for that achievement. This is the first year LOA was eligible for the award and to be selected in its first year is an honor in itself. With over 132,000 schools eligible for the award, only 290 traditional public, charter and magnet schools and 50 private schools from across the nation and the seas were recipients placing LOA in a group consisting of only twenty-five hundredth of one percent of schools (0.25%). Awards are nice; however, to be meaningful, there needed to be a greater message and that came with the two day awards ceremony and speeches held in Washington, DC.
The first of these messages came from US Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. In his speech, Secretary Duncan made the point that even though schools were improving there was still unrest with many education programs and too many poorly performing schools in the United States. However, he then stated the best schools in the United States can compete with the best schools anywhere in the world and these Blue Ribbon Schools are in that illustrious group of best schools in the world.
We also heard the 2014 National Teacher the Year, Sean McComb speak. He asked the question, “What is the role of the 2014 Blue Ribbon Schools as it relates to the remainder of the education community?” He noted a conversation he had with the First Lady where she challenged him to reach back through the door of opportunity that had opened for him and pull other teachers through the door with him, assisting them to be high quality teachers. Mr. McComb challenged the Blue Ribbon Schools to share their experiences and expertise with those who request and seek their assistance.
LOA has helped a plethora of schools and educational leaders across Georgia and the United States with setup, curriculum design, and leadership. Even as recently as this week the Academy for Classical Education (ACE) from Bibb County continues to visit for Special Education design and implementation as well as leadership information. I spoke last Saturday morning at a weekend retreat for a DeKalb Leadership Academy that was seeking to improve their overall performance.
But the most impactful comments of the conference came from the 2011 National Superintendent of the Year, Mark Johnson. He turned a historically failing school district in California into one that was the home of multiple “Blue” schools. He made two direct and profound statements. Statements we live by here at LOA. First, “Every organization is perfectly aligned for the results it gets.” And second, “The world is not going to lower its standards for you.” At LOA, we do not intend for that to be a problem.
For immediate release
Contact: Kerry Minster