As State Superintendent I get to have fun every once in awhile. Two such times happened in the last few weeks.
On Sept. 7, I got to make the announcement that six schools in Oklahoma were named among the 269 national Blue Ribbon Schools. Making the list in the state is: Hoover Elementary, Enid; Hulbert Elementary, Hullbert; KIPP Reach College Preparatory, Oklahoma City; Pratt Elementary; Sand Springs; Santa Fe High School, Edmond, and Waurika Elementary, Waurika. Blue Ribbon Schools are those that are both the highest achieving in the state and those that have shown the most progress in closing achievement gaps for disadvantaged students such as English language learners, minority students, those who qualify for free- or reduced-priced meals or special education students. I’m so very proud of all of the hard work done by the students and the educators in these schools, and by the parents who I’m sure contributed to encouraging their children to work their hardest. These schools are shining examples of excellence for the entire state to model.
Last week, we recognized 10 elementary schools that have been named K20 STEM–Building STEM-Ready Elementary Schools. The schools are: Springer Elementary, Springer; Edison Elementary, Mangum; Silo Elementary, Silo; Traub Elementary, Midwest City-Del City; Peggs Elementary, Peggs; Mustang Elementary, Mustang; Rose Union Elementary, Deer Creek; Wellston Elementary, Wellston; Keota Elementary, Keota; Grand View Elementary, Grand View.
State Department of Education math and science directors will be in the schools throughout the year alongside trainers from the K20 Center to train teachers in the schools in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The goal is to increase teachers’ STEM content knowledge, which in turn will prepare students for college and STEM careers. We’ve long known we need to focus more on STEM learning in this state if we want our future graduates to be able to compete for jobs alongside their national and global counterparts. I’m excited to get this type of training to our youngest students so that we can begin to lay that foundation.
It’s an exciting time for students, parents and educators in our state. Join me in offering congratulations to these schools. Our future is getting brighter by the day.