WARREN, NJ - Woodland School has been nominated by the New Jersey Department of Education to apply for the 2017 National Blue Ribbon Schools Award, one of only nine schools in the state to receive the distinguished recognition this year.

“I accept this nomination on behalf of the amazing educators (current and former), wonderful community, and all of the administrators who came before me who paved the path for success,” says Jeffrey Heaney, whose tenure as Woodland principal began in 2014.

Created in 1982, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program recognizes outstanding public and non-public schools for overall academic excellence and/or their progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups. To be nominated, a school must demonstrate high or strongly improving student scores on state or nationally normed assessments in the last year tested, as well as meet annual measurable objectives.

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Specifically, the performance of all tested students in a school in both reading and mathematics must be in the top 15 percent of all schools in New Jersey in the most recent year tested. Additionally, for each of a school’s student subgroups, the performance of all tested students in a subgroup in both reading and math must be in the top 40 percent of all schools statewide.

Woodland School was nominated in the category of “Exemplary High Performing Schools.”

“This prestigious recognition is the result of years of hard work by remarkable educators and a supportive community who do everything that it takes to ensure that students are successful,” says Heaney. “From the moment I walked through the door at Woodland School, I knew this was a very special place.”

In the program’s 35-year history, six secondary public schools in Somerset County, including Watchung Hills Regional High School, have been recognized as National Blue Ribbon Schools. Just four public elementary schools in the county have received the award.

“This honor is well deserved for the entire Woodland School community, from students and their families, to the teaching staff, administration, and all of the wonderful support personnel who make the school a home away from home. Recognition like this does not come without years of hard work and dedication from a great many people,” says Superintendent Matthew Mingle. “While the initial nomination has a lot to do with our students’ performance on standardized assessments, the next phase requires us to demonstrate how committed we are to the whole child. I know the Woodland School community will shine when the final nomination makes its way to the U.S. Department of Education.”

Heaney says he is proud “to work alongside a group of educators and with parents who help children grow as critical thinkers, problem solvers, and most importantly, as human beings with good character.”

“We are so proud that our school district is being recognized nationally with a Blue Ribbon Schools nomination,” says Tia Allocco, Board of Education President. “This distinction affirms the exceptional education provided both at Woodland School and throughout Warren Township. The Board would like to thank all of our teachers and administrators for their professionalism and expertise, as well as parents and the broader Warren community for their continued support of our students.”

Woodland School must complete and submit a formal application to the U.S. Department of Education by March 31. National Blue Ribbon Schools winners will be announced in September.

“We hope that we are chosen as a Blue Ribbon School,” says Heaney, as he cites the school’s theme. “But, regardless of the outcome, we should all be proud. There is no doubt: ‘It is always a great day at Woodland.’”