By Brandi Makuski
Principal Jessica Champion is beaming.
She has a right to be. For the first time in its history, Bannach Elementary—the school Champion oversees—has won a national blue ribbon award for excellence.
The announcement came from the U.S. Department of Education earlier this week. Bannach is one of eight schools in Wisconsin to win the award; the only one in Portage Co.
“We got it for closing the achievement gap for students with special needs,” Champion said. “We actually increased our score for students with IEP (Individualized Education Program) students by 32 points over the course of five years.”
Champion said it’s been a joint effort by the school’s 65 staff members, something she calls “remarkable”.
“But we can’t replicate this; when you’re already up in the 80’s and 90’s, there aren’t that many points left to be had,” she said. “So we have to do our best to keep this up.”
Champion, who has been with the district for almost two decades and principal of Bannach for 10 of those years, will travel to Washington, D.C. in November to accept the award during a formal two-day celebration in the nation’s capital.
Now in its 36th year, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has bestowed recognition on more than 8,800 schools. On Nov. 7-8, the Secretary and the Department of Education will celebrate with 300 public and 49 private school honorees at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C.
More information on the National Blue Ribbon School program is available at http://www.ed.gov.nationalblueribbonschools.