By Malcolm Butler
Following the announcement last week that A.E. Phillips Laboratory School was recognized as a Blue Ribbon School, Director Jenny Blalock and the staff at the school used an assembly Tuesday afternoon to educate their students exactly what that meant.
In a 20-minute assembly that was held in the school’s gym, Blalock and Louisiana Tech’s Don Schillinger, Dean of the Louisiana Tech College of Education and Human Sciences, congratulated the student body, teachers and staff on the recognition.
“Since we won this award a few days ago, I have just been thinking how grateful and how proud I am of all of you,” said Blalock. “I believe we have one of the absolute best groups of teachers and staff and administrators of anywhere in the United States. They love all of you so much and work so hard for you every single day.
“We have the best students too. You guys have made us so proud. We talk all the time about how we want our students to be leaders. Not just because you have a title, but because you carry yourselves and behave like leaders do.”
The Lincoln Parish-based school consisting of grades K through 8th is one of 353 schools across the country to receive the impressive designation, which is based on a school’s overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps among student groups on assessments.
Blalock told the group that according to the national Blue Ribbon program, that “ever year the United States Department of Education seeks out and celebrates great American schools demonstrating that students can achieve at high levels.”
Since the program started in 1982, the goals of the program are to highlight the best schools within the United States of America.
Lincoln Parish School Board Superintendent Ricky Durrett was in attendance Tuesday and said that the lab school is one of the high-achieving elementary schools in the parish. He gave credit to the school as well as its partnership with Louisiana Tech University.
“I think it’s great what A.E. Phillips has been able to accomplish,” said Durrett. “They have been named a Blue Ribbon School and now the No. 1 elementary school in the state of Louisiana. It says a lot about the partnership we have with Louisiana Tech. I know they put out a lot of great teachers for us. A lot of them do their undergrad here at A.E. Phillips. It’s a great opportunity for these kids and these families to go to this school.”
Schillinger echoed the sentiments of Durrett during his remarks to the assembly.
“You have been recognized Bullpup Nation,” Schillinger said. “All of you have been recognized for your exemplary academic achievement. You are an honor every day to be around. I am proud to know all of you. You exhibit exemplary behavior and the way you accord yourselves as good citizens.
“It takes a team. It takes all of the teachers. It takes all the staff. It takes all the leaders. It takes you all to make this possible.”
Schillinger also highlighted the work of Blalock and the AEP teachers.
“I want to recognize someone who has been vital to this and that’s the leader of your school and the director of this school, Dr. Jenny Blalock,” said Schillinger. “Your teachers hold you accountable but they lift you up to those expectations, and you see what happens. When you have high expectations and you work hard to meet them, you achieve your goals.”
With its 40th cohort, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has bestowed approximately 10,000 awards to more than 9,700 schools. The National Blue Ribbon School award affirms and validates the hard work of students, educators, families, and communities in striving for – and attaining – exemplary achievement. National Blue Ribbon Schools represent the full diversity of American schools and serve students of every background.
Blalock drew the loudest cheer from the AEP students when she informed them that as part of the reward for the honor they would be allowed to have “dress down days” for the remainder of the week.
“We are going to celebrate all year long,” said Blalock. “We are going to celebrate our wonderful teachers. We are going to celebrate our Bullpups. All year we are going to celebrate your hard work but while we are celebrating, we are going to keep pushing forward to keep growing.”