Two Local Schools Garner National Recognition
US Department of Ed. awards Spencer, Henderson County elementary schools with National Blue Ribbon award for excellence, closing achievement gaps
The David Turnham Education Center in Spencer County Indiana, and Cairo Elementary School in Henderson County Kentucky, were among the 297 public schools recognized nationally in 2022.
Both are rural, title 1 schools — meaning a significant percentage qualify for free-and-reduced meals at school.
David Turnham is in the North Spencer County School Corporation, and educates pre-K through sixth-grade students. They are one of 10 Blue Ribbon schools in Indiana, and Principal Kelsey Henrickson said it’s an honor.
“I think this is a very deserving staff,” she said. “David Turnham, teachers and staff are extremely dedicated to not only student learning and growth, but also to the students themselves. We are a small community. So we know our kids, we know our families. And it is just a huge honor for their hard work and dedication to be recognized.”
Once nomindated by the applicable state Department of Education, an administrator for the school fills out a comprehensive application. Metrics like, leadership, culture, student attendance and test scores are included.
Schools are judged based on student attendance, achievement, and in their case, closing achievement gaps in literacy.
“So I think a big part of our success is our early literacy programs,” Henrickson said. “We do a lot of early interventions, we have a guided reading, which is mixed between grade levels. And so we really during that 60 minute block of time, meet kids where they are and grow them early on.”
With the robust Hispanic population, they also work hard to close gaps with English as a Second Language (ESL) students.
“It's full inclusion, but we do have an ESL teacher who works with small groups of kids throughout the day. And again, trying to close those achievement gaps.”
Cairo Elementary School in Henderson County was one of five public schools across Kentucky to receive a National Blue Ribbon award.
Brooke Shappell is the Principal. She said they were nominated by the Kentucky Department of Education under the category of “exemplary high performing schools.”
“We are very humbled by it, for sure,” Shappell said. “Very grateful for all of the support that we are given all the time from our community. We have one of the hardest working groups of teachers and staff that I personally have ever seen.”
Shappell said such awards are validation of the efforts of teachers and staff.
“That validation of the practices and processes that we have in place for our students are working. We're very collaborative here and at Cairo, our teachers work together within their teaching teams, but also with our interventionists, our classified staff, our special education teachers."
Shappell said their application also shared how they encouraged strong student attendance.