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Blue Valley’s Mission Trail Elementary earns national Blue Ribbon distinction

Photo: Mission Trail Elementary students cheered when they about the school’s Blue Ribbon honor during a surprise assembly. Principal Debbie Bond credits the Blue Ribbon Award to the hard work, dedication and collaboration among staff, students, parents and the community.The gym floor was packed and the anticipation was high. Mission Trail Elementary Principal Debbie Bond called an assembly for an all school photo, or so they thought. But it was all part of a cover so Bond could tell her students and staff the good news. The moment she made the announcement that Mission Trail Elementary was a 2013 Blue Ribbon School, a prestigious honor awarded to only 286 schools nationwide this year, cheers of excitement filled the gym.

Mission Trail’s students and staff had reason to cheer. The Blue Ribbon School program honors exemplary elementary and secondary schools and sets a standard of excellence for all schools striving for the highest level of achievement. This is the first time Mission Trail Elementary has received this award.

The U.S. Department of Education honored Mission Trail Elementary at a recognition ceremony in Washington, D.C. this fall and the Mission Trail school community celebrated the award at an event in early December.

“The last five years have been an extraordinary time for Mission Trail,” said Debbie Bond, principal of Mission Trail Elementary. “The dedication and commitment of all staff to provide an Education Beyond Expectations has been the driving force for the increase in student achievement. Our commitment is to be a school where every student is expected to excel, and every adult is expected to inspire, encourage and facilitate the learning of every child.”

The program recognizes schools in two performance categories. The first category is “Exemplary High Performing,” in which schools are recognized among their state’s highest performing schools, as measured by state assessments or nationally-normed tests. The second category is “Exemplary Improving,” in which schools that have at least 40 percent of their students from disadvantaged backgrounds demonstrate the most progress in improving student achievement levels as measured by state assessments or nationally-normed tests. Mission Trail Elementary was nominated by the state as an exemplary high performing school.

“Our Board of Education is thrilled with this accomplishment,” said Pam Robinson, Board of Education president. “This honor is a reflection of the tremendous work that our staff does each and every day to provide students a quality education.”

The Blue Ribbon honor is a recognition and affirmation of Mission Trail’s journey to personalize student learning. “Our school goal is learning,” said Bond. “Whether it’s academic, personal growth or the Blue Valley Virtues, we are committed to learning. This award invigorates us to continue on the path we are taking to work together to make a difference for every child.”

Mission Trail staff, students, parents and the community can all share some credit for this honor. “The Mission Trail community is so special and unique,” said Bond. “We have a support base that is second to none. I want staff, students, parents and the community to proud of this honor because it is a reflection of their commitment and dedication to being the best Bulldogs that they can be.”

Mission Trail’s Blue Ribbon honor comes only one year after Blue Valley High was named a Blue Ribbon school and they join an elite group of 12 Blue Valley schools who previously received the honor. “We are a part of something more than Mission Trail; we are a part of the Blue Valley School District,” said Bond. “This honor showcases Blue Valley on a national level and reflects the success of the entire district.”

In turn, the district is thrilled about its most recent Blue Ribbon honor. “We are incredibly proud of the Mission Trail Elementary students and staff,” said Superintendent Tom Trigg. “Mission Trail is a school where the learning environment has been developed through relationships, dedication, collaboration and flexibility.”

Blue Valley schools have earned the Blue Ribbon honor 17 times to date.