GREEN RIVER — Washington Elementary School staff, students, and families had reason to celebrate Monday as it was announced September 16 that the school had been recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School for 2022.
Washington Elementary was one of 297 schools nation-wide to receive this award. According to a press release from the U.S. Department of Education, the recognition is based on a school’s overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups.
“I applaud all the honorees for the 2022 National Blue Ribbon Schools Award for creating vibrant, welcoming, and affirming school communities where students can learn, grow, reach their potential, and achieve their dreams,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “As our country continues to recover from the pandemic, we know that our future will only be as strong as the education we provide to all of our children. Blue Ribbon Schools have gone above and beyond to keep students healthy and safe while meeting their academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs. These schools show what is possible to make an enduring, positive difference in students’ lives.”
To celebrate their honor, students and staff gathered in the Washington Elementary gymnasium to learn about the award and receiving recognition for their hard work. Principal Anne Marie Covey gave credit to the staff, students, and the families for all playing their important roles in making Washington a great place to learn and work.
“This award comes to us because of our academic performance throughout the course of the past several years,” Covey told the students. “As your principal, I couldn’t be more excited. The work that has gone into this, your teachers, your parents, and all of you have worked so hard to make this happen. I couldn’t be more proud of the work you do every day. You come here to school and you persevere.”
She went on to thank the staff and teachers for all the work and care they put into their professions.
“Staff, I know it’s been an exciting few days and I just want to thank you for being on this journey with me and working so hard and digging in, for never giving up and never quitting. I couldn’t ask for a better group of people to come to work with each and every day,” Covey added.
The teachers gave the students a big round of applause and the the students gave themselves a pat on the back for their dedication to learning. Washington Elementary teacher Breeun Palmer-Bieber also spoke to the students about how everything they’ve learned over the years is what earned this award for the school.
“Guys, this is the most exciting news I’ve ever had in my 17 years of teaching… Because your teachers taught you, because your parents taught you, and because you learned something, that’s why we won this award, so good job kids, we’re so proud of you,” Palmer-Bieber said.
Washington Elementary PTO member Kendall Valenciano also spoke during the assembly to commend the staff on their dedication to the students and to express her pride in the students.
Washington Elementary is now part of the 39th cohort of the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program, and the staff and students understand just how special that is.
“I am so proud and honored to lead this group, these kids and this staff. I’m so happy for them and so excited because this group works tirelessly and gives it their all. To be recognized at the national level is something that’s amazing. It’s just something you don’t get everyday and they know it. We talk about the great work that goes on but to have it be seen nationally it is overwhelming,” Covey told SweetwaterNOW.
When asked what makes Washington Elementary stand out amongst all the schools in the nation, Covey said it’s “the people”. She believes everyone from the students to the staff to the families, who she said will do anything for this school and these kids, deserve the credit.
“It really starts with the relationships. It starts with that foundation of ‘we care and we are here for each other’. And then along the way we’re going to do some amazing academic work and grow these kids, but it definitely starts with our relationships with our staff, our kids, and our families,” she said.