Blue Ribbon School

Lake Road named National Blue Ribbon School
Posted on 10/01/2018
Blue Ribbon eagle

The U.S. Department of Education announced today that Lake Road Elementary has been named a 2018 National Blue Ribbon School, the highest honor an educational institution can achieve. 

The Poplar Bluff District’s first recipient since the coveted award was established to identify best practices in 1982, Lake Road will join 349 of the top public and private schools across the country for recognition during the annual ceremony Wednesday and Thursday, November 7-8, in Washington, D.C. 

“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 the honorees. “Congratulations on your students’ accomplishments and for your extraordinary commitment to meeting their unique needs.” 

In order to achieve the exemplary status, Lake Road had to prove to be one of the highest performing schools in America based on overall academic assessments or, in other cases, closing the achievement gaps among student subgroups. The honor affirms the hard work of educators, families and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging and engaging content, according to a press release issued by the ED. 

Since the 2011/12 school year, the number of students who scored proficient or advanced in English language arts at the elementary school has increased by 69.9 percentage points – to 100 percent and by 33.2 percentage points to 75 in math, according to the most recent Missouri Assessment Program results. School officials attribute the progress to following the Professional Learning Community model, working in teams to create common formative assessments and co-teaching in small groups for intervention. 

In addition, the attendance rate went up from 80.9 percent several years ago to 92.38 percent in 2017/18 due in large part to the Rotary Good Habits Store. The makeshift shop is set up monthly in the gymnasium for students to purchase toys, snacks, clothing and personal hygiene items with points accrued as an incentive for being present. 

Office referrals decreased from 367 to 46 during the same time period because of the preventative framework of the school-wide positive behavior support program under which staff achieved gold level implementation last year and won the Dr. Mary Richter Award. Earlier this year, the elementary school was also named a national showcase school under the Capturing Kids’ Hearts cultural initiative, promoting connectedness with students using classroom tools such as the social contract. 

“Our teachers put on a show the entire time they are there – to keep students engaged,” explained Lake Road Principal Erica Weadon, who took the helm in 2010. 

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education named Lake Road one of eight Gold Star Schools in May for scoring in the top 15th percentile on the MAP test while serving a significant proportion of disadvantaged students, having a free and reduced lunch rate of over 90 percent. Part of the criteria, aligned with the Blue Ribbon program, is for the district’s graduation rate to also be among the state’s top 15 percent. Poplar Bluff High School has gone from graduating 78.6 percent in 2011 to 93.6 percent in 2018, it was reported during the September school board meeting. 

“No matter what they have going on in their lives, these kids are going to get what they need to be successful at the next level,” said Weadon, “and that’s ultimately graduating high school, and going on to college.” 

The elementary school would not be nearly as welcoming, the principal noted, without the community partnerships of parents, churches, businesses and social service agencies through its Bright Futures Site Council. Three years ago, the council implemented Club Days to provide students opportunities to participate bimonthly in extra-curricular activities led by volunteers including cooking, science experiments, gymnastics and swimming, eliminating possible barriers such as fees and transportation. 

The entire staff at Lake Road embarked upon a process of rewriting the school’s mission statement over a year ago after participating in a book study on “Learning by Doing” authored by a team of leading education researchers. Part of the vision component was to become a Blue Ribbon School by delving into the curriculum and collaborating both horizontally and vertically. Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum Patty Robertson put the feat in perspective, reflecting on her experience as longtime building administrator over the former 5th & 6th Grade Center. 

“This is such a prestigious award; a five-year process that I remember feeling was ‘out of reach’ when I served as principal,” Robertson stated. “Mrs. Erica Weadon and all of the staff are to be commended for their unwavering commitment to helping all students reach their highest potential. 

“It doesn't take long for a person visiting Lake Road to realize that the staff believes in whatever it takes for every child; each and every day,” she continued. 

Located in the eastern most portion of the R-I district, Lake Road Elementary School serves grades 1-4, with plans to expand its configuration through sixth grade by 2020.

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