Photo via Facebook/P.S. 101Q Centennial

Forest Hills’ P.S. 101Q has earned the coveted title of a National Blue Ribbon School for 2019 by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos on Sept. 26.

The recognition is based on a school’s overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups. 

“We recognize and honor your important work in preparing students for successful careers and meaningful lives,” DeVos said in a video message to the honorees. “As a National Blue Ribbon School, your school demonstrates what is possible when committed educators hold all students and staff to high standards and create vibrant, innovative cultures of teaching and learning.”

The coveted National Blue Ribbon Schools award affirms the hard work of educators, families and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging and engaging content.

P.S. 101Q, known as The School in the Gardens, located at 2 Russell Pl., was recognized among 19 honorees for the prestigious award. The school’s mission is to nurture its students in a well-rounded, intellectually stimulating atmosphere, while fostering a love of learning. 

Their most impressive accomplishments have been centered on the social emotional climate of the school. Although the school was somewhat high performing, it was in the bottom third of schools within similar demographics. 

“As we have partnered with Yale University’s Center for Emotional Intelligence, we have seen more of our students engaged in their own growth and potential. The backbone of our work is built on the social emotional components of our curricula,” according to its National Blue Ribbons Schools profile. “We focused on child-centered, progressive education as we partnered with Columbia University’s Teachers’ College. We narrowed our achievement gap because of the fundamental belief that all students can reach their potential. Another strength of the community is the collaboration between all constituents.” 

In her summer 2019 message to the students, Principal Monique Lopez-Paniagua said, “I’m so thankful for our teachers; they’re so dedicated and hardworking and they really give 100 percent to our kids and are here for the right reasons. Teachers, thank you. And for the rest of our staff — our paraprofessionals, office staff, our kitchen staff, our custodians — again, we are a great school because we are a community.” 

Now in its 37th year, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has bestowed recognition on more than 9,000 schools. On Nov. 14 and 15, the Secretary and Department of Education will celebrate with 312 public and 50 non-public school honorees at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. 

The Department recognizes all schools in one of two performance categories, based on all student scores, student subgroup scores and graduation rates: 

Exemplary High Performing Schools are among their state’s highest performing schools as measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests.

Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing Schools are among their state’s highest performing schools in closing achievement gaps between a school’s student groups and all students. 

Up to 420 schools may be nominated each year. The Department invites National Blue Ribbon School nominations from the top education official in all states: the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the Department of Defense Education Activity and the Bureau of Indian Education. Private schools are nominated by The Council for American Private Education (CAPE).

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