Two GCS Schools Named National Blue Ribbon Schools

The U.S. Department of Education today announced its 2012 National Blue Ribbon Schools, a list that includes two from Guilford County Schools (GCS): The Academy at Smith and The Middle College at Bennett.

National Blue Ribbon Schools are those that are committed to accelerating student achievement and preparing students for success in college and careers. Schools are categorized as either Exemplary High Performing, meaning they are among the state's best performing academically, or Exemplary Improving, which are those that have at least 40 percent of their students from disadvantaged backgrounds and have reduced the achievement gap by improving performance to high levels.

Both The Academy at Smith and The Middle College at Bennett achieved recognition as Exemplary Improving schools. The Academy at Smith, led by Principal David Miller, and The Middle College at Bennett, led by Principal Esther Coble, are among the 19 Honor Schools of Excellence in GCS for the 2011-12 school year, with more than 90 percent proficiency in End-of-Course testing.

The Middle College at Bennett, an all-female magnet school that serves 115 students, achieved a 100 percent graduation rate. The Academy at Smith, which serves about twice as many students, had a graduation rate of 98.5 percent.

"We are thrilled at the recognition of these two schools as among the best in the country," said Dr. Beth Folger, GCS chief academic officer. "It's rewarding to know that all of the hard work put in by our principals, our staff and our students at The Middle College at Bennett and at The Academy at Smith is being honored at the highest level."

Top education officials in each state select schools that best fit the Blue Ribbon criteria and submit those nominations to the U.S. Department of Education. Nine of the 269 schools honored nationally were from North Carolina, including the two from GCS. Another GCS school, Brown Summit Middle, was recognized in 2011 as a National Blue Ribbon School.

The two schools will be formally recognized by the U.S. Department of Education at a ceremony on Nov. 12 and 13 in Washington, D.C.