Cashell Elementary School in Rockville was named a Maryland Blue Ribbon School in a ceremony at the state Board of Education offices in Baltimore Wednesday. It was the only Montgomery County school to earn the award this year.
“It was a wonderful, shocking surprise,” Cashell Principal Maureen Ahern-Stamoulis said. “It’s really nice to be recognized.”
Maryland selects six schools each year for the state Blue Ribbon Award, the same number the state can nominate for the national Blue Ribbon Award, which is presented by the U.S. Department of Education, Darla Strouse, director of the Maryland Blue Ribbon Schools Program said.
“Each year we select six schools that we think should be national Blue Ribbon Schools,” she said. “We look at standards across the state and they have to be in the top, at least, 15 percent when compared to other schools in their [grade] level in reading and math.”
That data is based on state assessments, Strouse said. They also look at the progress of subgroups within the schools’ populations, groups like English language learners and students receiving free and reduced meals, she said.
“Subgroups had to be in at least the top 40 percent,” she said. ”You can have a school that most students are doing well but we also look at the subgroups.”
Data is the first cut in selecting the Blue Ribbon schools but, she said, they also talk to communities about their schools and how they feel their schools are doing with community engagement, student involvement, parental engagement and innovative programs.
“One way to look at it is does the school look like it is improving,’ she said. ‘What everyone is hoping is they are getting better and here are six schools that show us they are doing better.”
Other schools receiving the state award were;
Frost Elementary School, Allegany County; Linthicum Elementary School, Anne Arundel County; Western School of Technology & Environmental Science, Baltimore County; Northern Garrett High School, Garrett County; and the Robert Goddard French Immersion Elementary/Middle School, Prince George’s County.
Representatives from all of the schools will be honored March 10 in Annapolis,
“I am so proud of our students and staff and so grateful for the support we receive from our parents and our community,” Ahern-Stamoulis said in a press release. “We appreciate this recognition from the state and will continue to offer our students our very best every day.”
Cashell Elementary School serves 326 students from Pre-K through fifth grade, and has four classes serving 3- to-11-year-old students with special needs, according to a press release from Montgomery County Public Schools. In addition to a strong academic program, Cashell has a strong integrated arts program. The arts team collaborates on several student productions throughout the year and the Cashell chorus has performed in several Washington, D.C. venues, including the Cherry Blossom Parade.