Trapp Elementary School accomplished something last week no other Clark County school has done when it earned a 2012 Blue Ribbon School designation from the U.S. Department of Education.
Trapp was one of three Kentucky schools to earn the honor, and one of only 307 public schools nationwide.
Since 2003, 40 Kentucky schools have won the award, which recognizes public and private P-12 schools that help students achieve at very high levels and those that are making significant progress in closing achievement gaps.
“This is a great honor, and I think it validates what our teachers are doing every day working with our kids. There are great teachers everywhere, but it's nice that Trapp has figured out that right mix that is working for our kids,” Principal Steve Jenkins said. “Trapp has been high performing for many years. But it is nice to see that even with all the changing in testing and everything that we've continuously maintained that and gone further.”
Trapp was one of five schools nominated in January by Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holiday.
To be nominated, schools had to be among the highest performing schools as measured by state assessments, or have at least 40 percent of their students from disadvantaged backgrounds and to have improved those students’ performances to high levels as measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests. Trapp qualified in both categories.
Once nominated, the schools had to go through a rigorous application process just to be considered, Jenkins said.
“It was a huge application process. There were 21 essay questions where they wanted to know exactly what you were doing in reading and math to help kids, not just what book you were using, but every single thing you were doing and what programs you were doing,” Jenkins said. “It was very lengthy, but we broke up into teams that got together after school for four weeks in a row just to write it. But all the hard work was worth it.”
Jenkins said he received a call about the award from Clark County Superintendent Elaine Farris last week while on a field trip with students from Trapp and Pilot View to a pumpkin patch and immediately called the school to have it announced to the teachers.
Third-grade teacher Stephanie Rice said there was a lot of excitement in the building after the announcement.
“The kids were so excited. They thought they were going to Washington D.C. to help accept the award.
They were a little disappointed when they found out they weren’t, but when we told them we would have a big celebration at school they were excited about that,” Rice said. “It’s nice to know that other people are watching and noticing what we are doing with our kids out here.”
Fourth-grade teacher Betty Anes, who, like Rice, has taught at Trapp for 18 years, said the award validates the work being done at the school.
“We are excited. This is a hard working community and a hard working school that takes a lot of pride in what we do our here,” Anes said. “Some people want to make excuses about why this happened, they want to believe that it’s because we have fewer students in our classrooms. But we have the same struggles that they do at home. We have parents who are involved and those who aren’t. We have children that behave and those who don’t. It is what it is, we are a normal school, and we have our woes just like everyone else does.”
Anes said the honor was not just for Trapp but the whole community.
“I think this is a great honor for our community too. It’s an honor for us as a school, but I think it is something that we can all take pride in,” Anes said “If it happened at Providence or Hannah McClure or any other school I would be just as proud for them as I am for us. I think that all teachers in Clark County have one vision and that is it all about the children and educating those children no matter where they are.”
Jenkins said he and his staff thought they had a shot at the award, but they didn’t think it was a sure thing because of the uncertainty of the new state testing system.
“I don’t think any of us were sure we would win. We knew it depended on the test scores and with it being a new test and them telling us all the scores would be down this year, we weren’t sure how that would work out,” Jenkins said. “But when Dr. Farris called and said we had won, I though great, that means we must have done well on our test scores this year too. So I was very excited about that.”
Jenkins and Rice, who was chosen as the teacher representative by her peers, will travel to Washington, D.C. Nov. 11-13 to receive the award.
The school received a large plaque and a flag to fly outside the school commemorating the award from the U.S. Department of Education, and a banner for the inside of the school from the Clark County Board of Education.
A celebration for students and staff at the school is scheduled for Nov. 16 and a community celebration, which will include former students, staff and community members and a celebration of Trapp’s years of service to the community, is scheduled for Nov. 19 at 6 p.m.
Jenkins said that knowing the school will close in another year made the Blue Ribbon designation a little sweeter.
“Knowing that we only have one more year left makes it a little bit more special for sure,” Jenkins said. “It gives a reflection of what this school has been doing for more than 100 years to service this part of the county and doing it well.”
Contact Bob Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org.