Faith, Family, and Hard Work Bring East Elementary Blue Ribbon Nomination
Article by: Sara Musgrove
The Texas Education Agency (TEA) announced the nomination of twenty-six Texas public schools as 2022 National Blue Ribbon School designees. Thirteen of these nominations earn the designation of Exemplary High-Performing Schools. East Elementary of Brownwood ISD has earned a nomination as an Exemplary High-Performing Blue Ribbon school.
Initiated by the United States Department of Education (USDE) in 1982, the National Blue Ribbon Schools program recognizes public and private elementary, middle, and high schools that have high student achievement and/or highlights where exemplary progress has been made in closing achievement gaps among student subpopulations. Public schools are considered for nomination based on student performance on the first administration of the previous year’s STAAR assessments, as well as college and career data and graduation rates if applicable. This year’s nominees highlight the diverse learning environments found across the state, with the inclusion of traditional elementary, middle, and high school campuses, along with magnet and early college high schools. “East is a Blue Ribbon School because God has blessed this campus with amazing teachers who work hard, and work together,” said East Elementary Principal Dee Dee Wright. “We set high expectations for our students and believe they can meet these by being accountable for learning and behavior.” Wright’s tenure at East began in the 2019-2020 school year.
After assessing campus needs, Wright’s academic accountability and relationships-first approach brought about the academic turnaround. “I believe in building relationships and expressing gratitude daily, focusing on putting others first,” Wright said. “I love starting the day meeting with all of my students. This is a great time to set the tone of the day, by discussing our character focus and academic focus. I tell our students they are winners, champions, and Lionhearted Leaders every day. Plant the seed, spread love, and watch it grow.” Wright encourages her teachers and students to aim for excellence and to lead by example, using a personal responsibility emphasis for academic and individual success. “Never settle for mediocrity, but strive for excellence in everything, leading by example,” Wright said. She used her own faith as personal motivation as she began her new role at East. “My goal was to let God’s light shine brightly and continue our EAST STRONG tradition of faith, family, and hard work,” Wright said. “My focus is first on God and letting Him work His will in me. God has been with us every step of the way and He has blessed our work at East.” Wright and her staff have utilized various methods of rigor and research in order to improve their academic standard, earning this nomination as a result.
The second stage after becoming a nominee requires a rigorous application process to become a nationally recognized designee. National award winners will be announced in September of 2022. Schools that receive the designation will be recognized at the National Blue Ribbon Schools Awards Ceremony in Washington, D.C. The application process requires multiple demographic reports, as well as eighteen essays, ranging from 300 to 800 words each. These essays cover information about the campus, student groups, curriculum and instruction, proven practices, academic philosophies, academic programs, and specific approaches common across subject areas. The National Blue Ribbon School award affirms the hard work of students, educators, families, and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging and engaging content.
The Blue Ribbon School flag gracing an entry or flying overhead is a widely recognized symbol of exemplary teaching and learning. “We are so honored to have been nominated for the Blue Ribbon Award,” Wright said. “I am so proud of the East Elementary staff and their awesome drive and dedication to turn this school around academically. This is a team effort. I witness it every single day: Kids first—Team work—Hard work. I love this family!”