Richard Shields Elementary School in Lewes brought out the red carpet Dec. 12 and Dec. 13 to celebrate two national awards.
The school is one of 286 public and private schools in the nation to win the 2013 Blue Ribbon Schools designation. The award recognizes Shields as a school where students perform at a very high level and where significant improvements have been made in students' academic achievement.
In addition, Principal Jenny Nauman – in her fourth year at the school – is one of only seven principals in the nation to win the 2013 Terrel Bell Award – the first principal in Delaware to attain the honor. The award, named after the second U.S. Secretary of Education, honors outstanding school leaders.
During a pair of Dec. 12 assemblies, Aba Kumi, a director of the U.S. Department of Education's Blue Ribbon Schools program, told students there are more than 138,000 public and private schools in the nation. "You should be very proud; this is a wonderful school," she said. "You must keep doing wonderful things."
She and Cape Henlopen School District Superintendent Bob Fulton also congratulated Nauman for her achievement.
Prior to the assemblies, Shields students dressed up in their finest clothes and walked a red carpet set up in the school's gym.
On Dec. 13, the attention shifted to teachers and staff with an awards luncheon. Local elected officials presented the school and Nauman with tributes from the City of Lewes and the Delaware Senate and House.
Sen. Gary Simpson, R-Milford, put the awards into perspective. "It takes a great principal to make a great school, and it takes a great school to make a great principal," he said.
Fulton, who was once Shields principal, said the level of pride and passion among staff at the school is obvious. "You have a commitment to go above and beyond for our kids everyday," he said. "Your expectations are off the charts."
He presented Nauman with a sign to go over her office door as a Terrel Bell Award winner. "And we are working on a special sign for the front of the school to let everyone know how special this school is," he said.