Washington Elementary School in Westfield has been named a National Blue Ribbon School, one of nine schools in New Jersey to be recognized in 2019.  U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos made the announcement in Washington, D.C. on Thursday.

“We recognize and honor your important work in preparing students for successful careers and meaningful lives,” said DeVos in a video message to honorees that was live streamed and later replayed to enthusiastic Washington students and staff. “As a National Blue Ribbon School, your school demonstrates what is possible when committed educators hold all students and staff to high standards and create vibrant, innovative cultures of teaching and learning.”

Created in 1982, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program recognizes outstanding public and non-public school achievement for overall academic excellence and/or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups. Washington received the Blue Ribbon Schools award in the category of “Exemplary High Performing School.” Schools in this category are among their state’s highest performing school as measured by state assessments.

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“The African proverb is right: It does takes a village when it comes to providing our children with a school environment in which they can thrive,” said Dr. Andrew Perry, who joined Washington School as principal in 2006.  “We are a community of teachers and paraprofessionals who are always looking to improve their craft, a superintendent and central office who both push and support us, and parents who would do just about anything to help youngsters learn and grow. We also stand on the shoulders of all those who came before us, allowing us to reach higher than we ever could alone — educators and members of our school community who steadfastly brought us to this place.” 

“Congratulations to the entire Washington School community, past and present, for this well-deserved honor,” added Superintendent Dr. Margaret Dolan.  “This award is a recognition of your longstanding commitment to the district’s tradition of excellence.  All of us in the Westfield Public School District look forward to celebrating this tremendous achievement.”

On Nov. 14 and 15, Secretary DeVos and the U.S. Department of Education will celebrate with 312 public and 50 non-public school honorees at an awards ceremony in the Washington, D.C. area.  Drs. Dolan and Perry, along with Washington 5th grade teacher Matthew Cognetti, will attend the ceremony to accept the award.

Washington School is expected to hold a celebration in December for the school community to honor all those who have contributed to this coveted recognition over the years.  A date for the school Blue Ribbon celebration will be announced in the coming months. In 2004, Westfield’s Roosevelt Intermediate School also was honored as a National Blue Ribbon School.