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2015 National Blue Ribbon Schools – Selected Stories

In order to spread knowledge of innovative and successful school practices, the National Blue Ribbon Schools program profiles a number of schools from each year’s cohort. Stories are added as they are produced.

elementary student ballet classBooks and Ballet. Hired to bring her school  turnaround skills to troubled Blackshear Elementary School (Austin, Texas), Principal Betty Jenkins pushed to make her school an extraordinary place to learn. Today, all Blackshear students spend their mornings in rigorous academic study and their afternoons in classes with professional teaching artists. The arts and academics nourish each other.

school exteriorRevolutionizing School Meals Plus Play. Led by Principal Robert Groff, III, The Active Learning Elementary School (TALES), Pubic School 244 in Queens, New York has been promoting healthy eating, exercise, and social-emotional learning alongside academics. Students are succeeding academically and have more focus and energy in class. Two podcasts detail how TALES changed school lunch and how it uses play to develop good citizens.
image of design process Minnesota School’s Fab Lab Is First in the Nation. Inspired by a retired engineer, Mahtomedi High School (Mahtomedi, MN) developed the first school-based Fab–Fabrication–Lab ever. All students take at least one engineering class and many find themselves intrigued by the process of invention. The Fab Lab lets students design and build products from folding bicycles to radio-controlled airplanes.
two girls testing a machineEngineering for Everyone: A District Embraces a K-12 Curriculum. The success of the Mahtomedi High School engineering program prompted district officials to expand the program throughout the district. Today, students in first grade are learning physical chemistry through experimenting with PlayDoh and fourth graders are designing electrical circuits to use in games. Students at all grades are learning to think like engineers–critically, creatively, and unafraid of failures.