(NCSD Facebook Photo)

CASPER, Wyo. — In an announcement that brings pride to Casper, Sagewood Elementary School has been awarded the prestigious 2023 National Blue Ribbon School title by the U.S. Department of Education.

This honor spotlights schools known for exemplary academic performance or significant progress in narrowing achievement disparities.

Wyoming Stands Out

Among the 353 schools nationwide to garner this recognition this year, two hail from Wyoming. Apart from Sagewood Elementary in Casper, Southside Elementary School in Powell also achieved this accolade.

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona expressed admiration for this year’s awardees, emphasizing their commitment to academic excellence and cultivating positive educational environments.

“These schools set a national example of raising the bar in education,” Cardona remarked in a press release by the U.S. Department of Education.

Decades of Excellence

Now in its 40th iteration, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has recognized over 9,700 schools with about 10,000 awards. The distinction underscores the dedication of students, teachers, families and communities in achieving commendable academic milestones.

The program identifies schools in two main categories — Exemplary High-Performing Schools and Exemplary Achievement Gap-Closing Schools — based on student scores and graduation rates.

The U.S. Department of Education recognizes all schools in one of two performance categories, based on all student scores, subgroup student scores and graduation rates:   

  • Exemplary High-Performing Schools are among their state’s highest performing schools as measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests.   
  • Exemplary Achievement Gap-Closing Schools are among their state’s highest performing schools in closing achievement gaps between a school’s student groups and all students. Nominated schools also complete an extensive narrative application describing their school culture and philosophy, curricula, assessments, instructional practices, professional development, leadership structures and parent and community involvement.  

Both Wyoming schools were awarded in the Exemplary High-Performing School category.

Up to 420 schools may be nominated each year. The Department invites nominations for the National Blue Ribbon Schools award from the top education officials in all states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories, the Department of Defense Education Activity, and the Bureau of Indian Education.

A Testament to Sagewood’s Dedication

Local excitement over the honor is palpable. Sagewood Elementary’s principal, Anna Lavin, lauded her students, staff and school families.

“I am extremely honored to be part of the outstanding community of Sagewood Elementary. I am humbled and grateful for this recognition of the incredible achievements of our students and staff. I am amazed by the commitment the staff, students, and parents show each day to each other and our school. This recognition is a great celebration of the work my staff and students do daily,” Lavin stated in a news release by the Natrona County School District.

The school’s emphasis on collaboration and consistent instructional model has set it apart, fostering an environment where students receive tailored learning experiences.

Angela Hensley, Associate Superintendent of Natrona County Schools, echoed this sentiment. She commended Sagewood Elementary’s collaborative spirit, instructional leadership, and commitment to high standards.

“Congratulations to Sagewood Elementary staff, students, and families for their remarkable achievement in being recognized with this prestigious designation! It is a testament to the commitment to academic excellence, the strong instructional leadership of all staff, the spirit of collaboration within its walls, and the remarkable dedication to supporting staff and students to reach and exceed high expectations,” Hensley stated.

Superintendent Mike Jennings expressed immense pride in Sagewood’s accomplishments, also attributing the recognition to the school’s dedicated staff, students and families.

“This achievement is a reflection of the hard work, dedication, and unwavering commitment of Sagewood Elementary’s incredible staff, students, and school families,” Jennings shared. “Your enthusiasm for learning, drive for excellence, and commitment to an exceptional educational journey for all students has not only propelled your school to national recognition but has set a shining example for others. Congratulations on this truly extraordinary and well-deserved achievement.”

More information on Sagewood Elementary’s award can be found here. The application can be found below.

For a closer look at the 2023 National Blue Ribbon Schools, including photographs and descriptions, visit the official website.