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National Blue Ribbon School News

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Betsy DeVos Congratulations Speech

Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos Recognizes 2017 National Blue Ribbon Schools

During the 2017 recognition ceremony, U.S. Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, congratulated the 342 NBRS award winners. The winners represented schools from 44 states, the District of Columbia, and the Department of Defense Schools in New York, Germany, and Japan. Secretary DeVos praised the schools for putting students at the center of everything, working hard, and having a deep and positive impact on students. She talked about the diversity of students in our county and that the unique needs of each student are not met by a one-size fits all approach to education. She thanked the schools for their extraordinary commitment to meeting the unique needs of students every day.

In addition, Secretary DeVos recognized Joe and Trish McTighe who will be retiring from the Council for American Private Education after 21 years. She thanked them for their dedication and commitment to nominating non-public schools for NBRS awards.

Betsy Devos’ Congratulations Speech transcript here.

State Liaisons: The Critical Link

To be eligible for National Blue Ribbon School (NBRS) recognition, a public school must be identified and nominated by its state’s Chief State School Officer (CSSO). NBRS state liaisons connect state education agencies and the federal National Blue Ribbon Schools Program. The liaisons develop state nomination criteria, identify eligible schools in their states, support nominated schools through the application process, and promote National Blue Ribbon Schools and their effective practices statewide. Non-public schools submit applications to the Council for American Private Education (CAPE) for consideration.

This series, based on interviews conducted in 2018 with three state liaisons, covers topics such as ensuring representation through the state nomination process, utilizing interviews to make state selections, leveraging the success of awardee schools as models of excellence, creating state-level plans to support local-level promotion, and utilizing social media to share success stories across the state.

2018 State Liaison Interviews

Shuwan Chiu

Shuwan Chiu,
Eric Caldwell

Eric Caldwell,
 Chris Kelly

Chris Kelly,

This series, based on interviews conducted in 2017 with six state liaisons and two non-public school association representatives, covers topics such as how schools are chosen, the value of the application process, how the recognition benefits states and schools, how states use NBRS schools and practices as models of excellence, and how participation in NBRS has influenced the liaisons’ work.


2017 State Liaison Interviews

Photo of Erika Bolig
Erika Bolig,
Photo of Cathi Rust
Catherine Rust,
Joe McTighe,


NBRS State Liaison Interviews—National Catholic Educational Association

Annette Jones, the Assistant Director of Leadership Development at the National Catholic Education Association, describes her past experience as an NBRS principal of a non-public school and her current work supporting schools on the path to NBRS recognition.


For more information on becoming a National Blue Ribbon School, please visit the FAQ page, which details the nomination process and criteria for both public and non-public schools. Contact your state liaison.

Celebration ideas and submissions

Have a celebration idea, photo or video you would like to submit, let us know below:

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2017 Terrel H. Bell Awards

The 2017 recipients of the Terrel H. Bell award for outstanding leadership will be honored Monday afternoon, November 6, at the annual National Blue Ribbon Schools ceremony. Click here to learn about the eight awardees.