Valley Blue Ribbon Schools

September 17, 2009 12:48:27 AM PDT
All smiles at a Fresno County elementary school, as students and staff celebrated a national honor. Fresno Unified's Bullard Talent, Manchester Gate, and Edison Computech were each been named "Blue Ribbon Schools".But John Wash Elementary is part of Sanger Unified and is the only non-magnet school in the Valley to receive the honor this year. The Blue Ribbon Schools are either academically superior or demonstrate dramatic gains in student achievement.

Gone are the days of quiet classrooms where the teachers voice is the only one that can be heard. At John Wash Elementary School in Sanger Unified, the students do most of the talking.

Educators say interactive classrooms have helped students get ahead, earning an impressive school API score of 892, and this year John Wash is being recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School.

Principal Wesley Sever says this is just the beginning. When he arrived five years ago only 35 percent of John Wash students were proficient or advanced last year it was 85 percent. Server says there have been challenges, the student body has doubled and is dramatically different.

He says to meet need of a changing population the entire school was restructured. Teachers designed lesson plans where students work in pairs, meet for two daily reading lessons and use whiteboards to show their work.

Students say they are doing their part. Fourth grader Vincent Heng said, "We have to focus in class and try not to talk around, pay attention."

Students and teachers are already working on ways to improve next years scores.

Administrators at John Wash will be traveling to Washington D.C on November 2nd to accept their National Blue Ribbon Award.

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