Elgin Public Schools
A “Handprint Alley” showcases handprints and signatures from members of each graduating class from Elgin Middle School, alongside faculty caricatures and framed tee shirts with student-inspired slogans. These touches reinforce Elgin’s 3 R’s—the relationships, rewards, and recognition that engage students and propel their academic success.
Elgin uses a tangible reward system—“Owl” tags—to recognize students, strengthen teacher-student relationships, and deepen student engagement. Former principal Sammy Jackson explains, “We used to lose a lot of middle schoolers because this is the point where they are mature one day, immature the next. We want to make learning fun, want to make participation cool, so they want to come to school every single day.”
Every student takes Reading in addition to English Language Arts, generating, Mr. Jackson says, higher test scores, more competent students in English, and better readers at every grade level. Flexible scheduling increases instructional time and accommodates tiered instruction. Full inclusion means that Elgin students with special education needs and students who are gifted and talented receive instruction side by side in classrooms through co-teaching. Teacher-designed lessons tap students’ kinesthetic, visual, and auditory learning styles.
Winning the Blue Ribbon School award has enabled Elgin’s teachers and administrators to share what they have learned about capturing middle school minds and hearts with other educators in Oklahoma and beyond.
NBRS program staff created videos about the “3 Rs” and about opportunities that arose from National Blue Ribbon status.