Three area schools were recently recognized as some of the state’s best.
Riverhill School in St. Florian was notified last week that it was named a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence for 2012 through the Alabama Independent School Association. Harlan and Weeden elementary schools in Florence were named 2012-013 Torchbearer Schools.
Riverhill was named a Blue Ribbon School once before, during the 2007-2008 school year. The status is awarded to schools that exemplify excellence in teaching, student performance, school life and school and community interaction. Blue Ribbon distinction is awarded only to schools that meet or exceed a prescribed criteria.
“Getting to this point was a very stringent process,” said Riverhill Principal Mary Jane Fowler. “We had to document everything and submit information showing all our teaching and learning strategies as well as how we involve parents and the community in our mission.”
Fowler said the award speaks well of Riverhill and that the credit must go to the teachers on staff.
“These teachers are not only highly qualified, they’re dedicated to seeing that our students get the best all-around education possible,” Fowler said. “They aren’t just concerned about academics but with seeing that their students are good community-minded individuals. They encourage the students to take pride in themselves and always strive to do their best.”
As for Harlan and Weeden schools, the Torchbearer awards mark the third for Harlan and first for Weeden.
To be considered for the award, a school must have a minimum of 80 percent of its students receiving free or reduced-priced lunches as well as meet rigorous standards on the state’s reading and math tests, scoring in the top two tiers at level three or four.
Weeden Principal Joey Dawson said the award is the result of the school’s personnel working hard to make education the priority.
“It certainly takes a lot of hard work on the part of teachers but it’s the combination of teachers’ dedication to students and the students being willing to work hard,” he said.
Harlan Principal Shirley Coker said she is proud of what her students have accomplished academically.
“There’s tough criteria set forth in making a school eligible for this award and we have a student population that for the most part is very transient and that makes a teacher’s job more difficult in that they’re often having to get children caught up,” Coker said. “Our teaching staff does a tremendous job of working with these students so that they can make these accomplishments.”
Harlan and Weeden were among 20 schools in Alabama receiving the award.
Lisa Singleton-Rickman can be reached at 256-740-5735 or lisa.singleton-rickman@TimesDaily.com.