Building on success last year, Beacon Middle School, Rehoboth Elementary and Shields Elementary have been named Schools of Continued Excellence as part of the state's annual Academic Achievement Awards.
“I am extremely proud of our three award-winning schools. It was quite an accomplishment to be recognized last year, but to follow the Recognition award with a School of Continued Excellence award is even more impressive,” said Cape Henlopen Superintendent Robert Fulton. “Cape schools represent 4 percent of all the schools in Delaware, however our three schools out of the 17 schools being recognized represent nearly 20 percent of the awards given in the state. I am very proud of that.”
Secretary of Education Mark Murphy and Lt. Gov. Matt Denn presented the awards Oct. 16 at Georgetown Middle School.
“At the end of the day this was your work that made it happen,” Murphy said to an audience made up of eighth-graders from Georgetown Middle School and administrators and students from throughout Sussex County. “There aren't too many middle schools winning this award, but you're one of them.”
Georgetown Middle is one of 15 schools statewide that received $50,000 along with a Recognition School award; Sussex Academy of Arts and Sciences of Georgetown was one of two schools to receive $50,000 and a Reward School award.
Other area schools that received $50,000 were East Millsboro Elementary School, Georgetown Elementary School and Long Neck Elementary.
Last year, Beacon Middle and Shields and Rehoboth elementaries received $50,000. A committee of parents and school officials at each school decided how to spend the money. At Beacon, Principal Dave Frederick said they still have money left over from the grant after giving each teacher $500, paying for a field day and a day at Jungle Jim's for the students.
Rehoboth Elementary used its $50,000 to revamp the playground and buy instructional materials.
“We revived the old softball field into a beautiful kickball field, added two new sets of soccer goals, added a four-foot and a six-foot basketball hoop for ADA and younger children, and we painted some additional four square and hopscotch areas on the blacktop,” said Principal Trish Mumford. “For each of the new activities, we bought the appropriate sports equipment as well as jump ropes and other outdoor recess items.”
For the classroom, she said, each grade level chose what was needed to improve instruction. New books and supplies, iPads and other technology rounded out the purchases, she said.
Shields Elementary used most of its $50,000 to boost its technology. Each teacher received an iPad and students have access to a cart of 10 iPads for instructional use, said Principal Jennifer Nauman.
The rest of the money went to professional development with a couple of fun activities to boot. Children earned a laser light show for their hard work, and the school held a celebration luncheon for staff members, Nauman said.
Although Beacon Middle and Shields and Rehoboth elementaries did not receive $50,000 this year, the schools could qualify next year if they meet Reward or Recognition School qualifications, Murphy said.
“I am so honored and proud to receive the "School of Continued Excellence" Award,” Nauman said. “To me it means sustainability. The students, parents/families, and staff continue to work together and improve each and every year."
A state committee picks the winners, which are determined by the performance of Title I students – those falling in a federally defined low-income designation. Reward School awards are given to the highest performing or progressing Title I school; Recognition School awards also honor schools for high performing Title I students, and for closing the achievement gap.
Long Neck Elementary Principal David Hudson said the award is a great acknowledgement of the hard work students put into their studies.
“We are a community that inspires a passion for learning,” he said.
Patricia Oliphant, director of Sussex Academy, said her students work hard and it shows with top scores on the state tests.
“When I meet another principal .. and that person says, I know your kids, that makes me very proud,” she said.