Courant: Hartford School Named National Blue Ribbon Facility
Hartford School Named National Blue Ribbon Facility
STEM School One Of Just 269 In U.S. To Be Honored
by Brian Dowling, Special to The Courant The Hartford Courant
September 7, 2012
©The Hartford Courant
The Annie Fisher School, which last spring sent a science experiment into space on the shuttle Atlantis, announced Friday that the federal Department of Education named the magnet facility a National Blue Ribbon School, one of just 269 schools nationwide to receive the honor.
The national award marks the school’s academic achievement and efforts to close the achievement gap, while improving the school’s chances of acquiring public and private education grants.
“Receiving the National Blue Ribbon Award is an honor that validates how a community, with one common vision, dream and belief that every single child deserves a phenomenal educational experience, will surpass academic expectations and beat the odds,” said Principal Melony M. Brady. “It is without the shadow of a doubt that this acknowledgement recognizes the power of collaboration, partnership and educational autonomy that drives reform.”
“You have all beat the odds,” Brady told the nearly 400 students gathered for the announcement.
She said that Annie Fisher School’s emphasis on science and technology as part of its STEM curriculum creates inquisitive students who are engaged in their education.
“Our students drive their own learning,” Melony said. “They are intrinsically interested in the content.”
Brady was joined by Hartford’s superintendent of schools, Christina M. Kishimoto, the Connecticut Science Center’s chief executive, Matt Fleury, and Keith Sevigny, Hartford’s teacher of the year, to announce the award to students.
“When we think about the future of our country here, we can tell it’s going to be a bright one,” Sevigny told students.
The school of 359 kindergarten through eighth-grade students was transformed into a science, technology, engineering and math magnet school in 2009 from a neighborhood school, and in that short amount of time is posting strong improvements on the state’s standardized tests and other educational improvement measures.
In 2007, it was rare for half a grade level to test proficient in mathematics on the Connecticut Mastery Test. Last year, it was rare to see a grade level below 80 percent proficient. The increases were similar for the reading and writing tests.
The school also had the third highest mark in the Overall School Index with 88.3, up from 81.0 last year. The metric measures the school’s overall performance on standardized tests and was developed by the district in 2006 when it launched its school reform effort.
After the announcement, Liezyl Hauck and Catalina Gauat, who both live in Middletown and have two children in the school, left impressed, they said.
“They really push the students,” said Hauck “When my son was in kindergarten, they put him in the first grade reading class because he knew how to read.”
Gauat said that she likes how the school encourages and motivates the kids to learn.
Three other Hartford schools have been given Blue Ribbon status in the past 10 years: Hartford Magnet Middle in 2006, Dwight Elementary in 2005 and Simpson Waverly Elementary in 2003.
The program highlights schools making gains in academics with more than 40 percent of their students from disadvantaged backgrounds. At Annie Fisher, nearly 60 percent of students are eligible for the federal free and reduced lunch program.