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District 303’s North High School, Norton Creek named 2022 National Blue Ribbon schools

The U.S. Department of Education has recognized two schools in St. Charles School District 303 – St. Charles North High School and Norton Creek Elementary School – as National Blue Ribbon schools for 2022.

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona on Friday announced 297 total honorees, each recognized for their overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups. North High School and Norton Creek Elementary are among just 17 schools in Illinois to receive the honor in 2022.

National Blue Ribbon Schools serve as models of effective school practices for state and district educators and other schools throughout the nation.

“I am incredibly thrilled and proud to see the work of our students and staff at North High School and Norton Creek Elementary School be recognized at the national level as 2022 National Blue Ribbon School honorees,” St. Charles School Superintendent Paul Gordon said in a news release from St. Charles School District. “Each day, our teachers and staff are making connections with students that enhance learning, build character and create a sense of belonging. Congratulations and thank you to our team members at North and Norton Creek for helping elevate our schools into what they are today.”

The Department of Education recognizes National Blue Ribbon Schools as exemplary high-performing or exemplary achievement gap-closing schools based on student scores, subgroup student scores and graduation rates.

“It is such an incredible honor for the students, staff and families at North High School and Norton Creek Elementary Schools to be recognized at the national level,” St. Charles School District Assistant Superintendent for Educational Services Christine Igoe said in the release. “I am continually impressed with their unwavering commitment to connect and challenge each student and to pursue continuous improvement in their practice.”

In the coming days, North High School and Norton Creek Elementary School will take time to officially recognize and celebrate their 2022 National Blue Ribbon Schools designations with students and staff.

North High School

Home to more than 1,940 students and 210 staff members, St. Charles North High School guides student growth through discovery, cooperation, preparation and inspiration. The instructional expectations, standardized test performance, academic and co-curricular offerings align not only with the school’s philosophy but also with its belief that all students belong and can be successful. North High School is receiving the 2022 Blue Ribbon School award for its overall academic performance in the Exemplary High-Performing School category.

For years, a priority at North High School has been its Professional Learning Communities (PLC), which provide resources for staff to identify consistent norms that guide its courses and assessments. Each week, general and special education teachers work collaboratively to support students to meet their individualized learning and social-emotional needs.

“St. Charles North is truly a remarkable place,” North Principal Shanna Lewis said in the release. “The students and staff continually look for ways to include each student and maximize opportunities for student success. To be recognized by the US. Department of Education for our successes is an honor. We are fortunate to have a supportive community and I couldn’t be more proud of our North Star students and staff.”

Audra Christenson, the district’a executive director of secondary education, was principal at North from 2013-2021.

“This is the second time St. Charles North High School has received the National Blue Ribbon School recognition, with the first occurring in 2010,” she said. “I continue to be impressed with the collaboration, innovation, and expertise the staff pours into their work which results in students engaging in meaningful learning, building strong skill sets, developing deep connections, and applying these in both achievement and performance settings.”

Norton Creek Elementary School

Norton Creek Elementary School, with 476 students and 68 staff, believes emotion drives attention, and attention drives learning. Central to its instructional focus is that everyone is seen and heard, achieved through a commitment of belonging for each student and staff member. Norton Creek is receiving the 2022 Blue Ribbon School award for its overall academic performance in the Exemplary High-Performing School category.

Among the ways Norton Creek is supporting students’ journeys is by reinforcing the 3 Bs: Be Kind, Be Respectful and Be Problem-Solvers. Teachers and staff apply positive reinforcement when students demonstrate any one or combination of these qualities.

“To say Norton Creek is humbled by this honor is an understatement,” Norton Creek Principal Tony White said. “We work daily to build an environment in which each student can feel comfortable being their authentic selves and learn at high levels every day. We are wholly invested in their learning – academically, socially, and emotionally, as well as the kinds of people they become. I am truly proud of the amazing work our talented staff and Norton Creek Eagles put in everyday and their incredible accomplishments.”

Jarrod Buxton, the district’s executive director of elementary education, added that the award “affirms the positive efforts made each and every day by the students, staff, and parent community of Norton Creek Elementary.”

“It is a testament to the impact a school can have on the young lives of its students when you get a mixture of knowledgeable, collaborative and professional staff, effective leadership, eager and engaged students and involved families,” he said.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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