Frankford Elementary picks up another honor

Frankford Elementary, named a National Blue Ribbon School in 2004, has now received national recognition for the second time in five years. The school was recently named a National Distinguished Title I School, an award sponsored by the National Association of State Title I Directors.

Duncan Smith, principal of the school, noted this week that each state recognizes their individual winners. Recognition at the national levels means the school has had good test scores for a number of years in a row.

According to Indian River School District officials, to be chosen, schools must show the ability to reach academic performance levels, have strong professional development programs, demonstrate coordination with other programs, offer curriculum and instructional support for achievement of high standards and create partnerships with parents and the community.

Frankford Elementary has consistently done that, even with its incredibly diverse student population – speaking a variety of languages at home and coming from a wide range of economic backgrounds.

Title I is the largest federal-aid program in K-12 education. Frankford Elementary has a large population – 82 percent of its students – participating in the federal free and reduced price lunch program. Despite this, Frankford consistently receives recognition as a high performing school. It has been a state Superior school every year since 2003 and was named National Blue Ribbon School in 2004. The school was also a “Dispelling the Myth Award” winner in 2005.

“It’s a great honor for the school, students and the staff,” said Smith of the Title I award. “The teachers work really hard to see what the student needs are year after year and it’s a testament to all that hard work.”

As a winner, Frankford will receive a $10,000 grant, which can be used where it is deemed needed. And Smith plans to attend the National Title I Conference in San Antonio Texas in February.

According to the National Association of State Title I Directors, The Title I program has served more than 150 million children in need of extra academic support in reading, writing and math since 1965. The foundation of Title I is as a reading and mathematics program.

“But these distinguished schools go beyond that mandate. They work to improve citizenship, character, enjoyment of the arts and community spirit. They also know the importance of making the school a hospitable hub of the community. Many students served by Title I go on to be the first in their families to graduate high school and college. Some – whose backgrounds include migrant farm work, non-English speaking homes, and extreme poverty – have become teachers, military officers, computer experts and engineers.”

“We are proud of the honor,” said Smith. “It’s good to be recognized.”

Only one other Delaware school, in the Christina School District, received the honor this year. Past Indian River School District winners include Long Neck and East Millsboro elementary schools in 2007; Phillip C. Showell in 2000, 2002 and 2003; and Frankford Elementary in 2004.

Frankford Elementary – originally known as George Washington Carver School, with an all-black teacher and student population catering to grades 1-8 – has grown into one of the state’s most ethnically diverse elementary schools.

In 2008, Frankford Elementary had an almost evenly split student population of 43 percent Hispanic, 29.2 percent white, 25.6 percent black and 2 percent Asian-American. Also, 78 percent of their students are considered low-income, 28.8 percent are English Language Learners, and 15.5 percent are special-education students.

In the fall of 2008, they had total enrollment of 496 students. They are located at 30207 Frankford School Road in Frankford. For more information, visit the Web site at