Selbyville Middle School was recognized nationally for academic excellence this week. SMS was one of three Delaware schools to earn the National Blue Ribbon School honor for 2018. It was named an “Exemplary High Performing School.”
“This coveted award affirms the hard work of educators, families and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging and engaging content,” according to the U.S. Department of Education, which selected 300 public and 49 private schools for the honor this year.
SMS holds a rare position among the recognized schools this year. Only two Title I public middle schools were classified as high-performing — among 22 total middle-school winners from among 349 total winners, out of 130,000 public and private schools across the U.S.
Delaware’s other two national winners were Lake Forest South Elementary School in Harrington and Cedar Lane Elementary School in Middletown. Delaware schools have won more than 40 more awards since 1983.
This is the 10th national award for Indian River School District.
“To be named a National Blue Ribbon School is a tremendous accomplishment made even more special by Selbyville Middle’s designation as the first secondary school in our district to receive this honor,” IRSD Superintendent Mark Steele said.
“The hard work and dedication required of students and staff to receive Blue Ribbon recognition is simply remarkable. My heartfelt congratulations go out to the entire SMS community for making the Indian River School District and the State of Delaware proud.”
The honor recognizes both school excellence and turn-around stories. Schools can fall into one of two categories: “Exemplary High Performing Schools” are among their state’s highest-performing schools, based on standardized testing; “Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing Schools” have made progress over the prior five years in closing achievement gaps between a school’s student subgroups and all students.
It’s the people who make SMS such a special place, Principal Jason Macrides said of the “highly talented faculty and staff; dedicated and hard-working students; a very supportive and engaged community; and strong district support.”
The community has reached up to congratulate their neighborhood middle school.
“The initial reaction has been one of ‘Wow!’ It seems as though National Blue Ribbon recognition is bestowed most frequently upon elementary schools, so a secondary school earning this recognition is significant,” Macrides said.
Earning the High Performance honor was a bonus, he said, since “the instructional philosophy at SMS is to provide the best possible teaching and learning experiences for all students.”
Macrides said he is looking forward to sustaining and building upon that success. But, as he had previously written in his message for the new school year, “In addition to student learning … the primary goal is to foster the healthy mental, emotional and physical development of our students as they enter young adulthood.”
SMS will celebrate the honor at its annual Family Night on Tuesday, Oct. 16, from 6 to 8 p.m.
“We are inviting the community to celebrate with us and look forward to seeing our supportive and engaged community there!” Macrides said.
The National Blue Ribbon 2018 cohort represents public and non-public schools, including traditional, charter, magnet schools, and parochial and independent schools in 47 states and Washington, D.C., as well as several U.S. Department of Defense schools.
“We recognize and honor your important work in preparing students for successful careers and meaningful lives,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in a video message to honorees. “Congratulations on your students’ accomplishments and for your extraordinary commitment to meeting their unique needs.”
The department accepts nominations from the top education official in all states, as well as Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the Bureau of Indian Education and the Council for American Private Education.
The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has bestowed more than 8,800 honors in its 36 years. Winners will be recognized at a Nov. 7 and 8 at a celebration in Washington, D.C.
By Laura Walter