Highland Elementary School in Apple Valley is one of only eight schools in Minnesota and 367 nationally to be recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School for 2020. The U.S. Dept. of Education announced the full list of recipients Sept. 24 during a virtual press conference. Highland Elementary was selected for its exemplary work in closing the achievement gap between groups of students.
“We have always known what a fabulous school we have here at Highland,” said Principal Chad Ryburn. “That is in large part to our outstanding students, families and staff who make up our Highland family. We are very proud and humbled by this recognition.”
The National Blue Ribbon School Program recognizes schools across the country who have demonstrated consistent excellence and progress in closing gaps in student achievement. In the application, Ryburn wrote that Highland staff is united in the mission that all students can achieve at high levels.
Students receive engaging and rigorous curriculum, academic interventions and consistent exposure to school-wide behavior expectations. One method used at Highland is the Appropriate Behavior Counts (ABC) program, which is a schoolwide positive behavior initiative that celebrates students for positive behaviors and random acts of kindness. In collaboration with students, appropriate behavior is based on shared power and personal accountability. Ryburn said this intentional focus on school climate and culture is behind Highland’s success in eliminating barriers.
“This award is an incredible reflection of the culture that has been built at Highland,” said District 196 Superintendent Mary Kreger. “The staff work collectively every day on behalf of each and every student. This national recognition is a testament to that commitment.”
The annual National Blue Ribbon Schools Awards Ceremony, typically held in Washington D.C., will be held virtually Nov. 12 and 13.
“Highland Elementary is one of so many wonderful schools in District 196,” Ryburn said. “We could not do this important work of educating our children without the endless support of our parents and community over the years.”