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High Shoals Elementary named 2021 National Blue Ribbon School

High Shoals Elementary School has been named a 2021 National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education. The nation’s most prestigious award for K-12 schools, High Shoals was specifically recognized in the category of exemplary high performance.


“On behalf of the school system and Board of Education, I offer commendations and congratulations to High Shoals Elementary School for being recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education,” said Superintendent Jason L. Branch. “High Shoals is an exemplary school – as reflected in a variety of areas including high student achievement, a positive school culture, and an engaged school community. The leaders, teachers, staff, students, and parents are very deserving of this honor that reflects what we have long known – HSES sets a national standard of excellence.”


Students at HSES thrive in an academically rigorous environment with a positive school culture – as indicated by their 97.5/100 College and Career Ready Performance Index score, as well as a 5/5 rating for Positive School Climate, both received from the Georgia Department of Education. At High Shoals, 100% of core content teachers are gifted-certified and students engage in a number of STEM activities, project-based learning, and innovative enrichment activities.


Responsive classroom strategies and the Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS) model are in place, along with a very strong parent-school connection. Students who require additional academic, emotional, or behavioral support are carefully monitored through the Response to Intervention (RTI) process with the school’s RTI team meeting bi-monthly.


HSES is a Title I Distinguished School, which places it in the Top 5% in the state of Georgia. The school attributes its success to the school community – students, teachers, and parents – who are firmly dedicated to sustained excellence and continuous improvement. 


Said Principal Jennifer Whitaker, “High Shoals Elementary is thrilled to be awarded this prestigious honor. This designation affirms the hard work and commitment to excellence of HSES teachers, staff, students, and parents. I am very fortunate to be part of such an outstanding school.”


The National Blue Ribbon Schools program was established in 1982. The award honors the hard work of students, educators, families, and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging and engaging content. Schools are either awarded the category of high performance or closing the achievement gap. High Shoals was recognized as “Exemplary High Performing” which is for schools with the highest achieving students (the top 15%) in English and mathematics, measured by state assessments. For the 2021 school year, 325 schools received the National Blue Ribbon School designation.


Said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, “I commend this school and all our Blue Ribbon honorees for working to keep students healthy and safe while meeting their academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs. In the face of unprecedented circumstances, you found creative ways to engage, care for, protect, and teach our children. Blue Ribbon Schools have so much to offer and can serve as a model for other schools and communities so that we can truly build back better.”