GLENARDEN — Glenarden Woods Elementary School was announced as one of six schools throughout Maryland that were designated as 2019 Maryland Blue Ribbon Schools on Dec. 18.
“It’s quite an honor,” said Principal Cecelia Jones-Bowlding. “We’ve worked very hard here as a collective staff, the teachers and the administration and our parents and the community at large have just been a wonderful support for this school for many years. When the work is acknowledged, it’s always an honor.”
Gov. Larry Hogan announced the school during a press conference as the only Prince George’s County school to be given the honor this year.
“Each of these outstanding schools is proof that with strong collaboration between communities, and administrators, and dedicated educators and families, we really can close the achievement gap and give Maryland’s children a hope for a better future,” Hogan said.
Maryland Blue Ribbon Schools are selected in the category of exemplary high performing schools where they have scored in the top 15 percent of all Maryland schools on the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) Assessments. From this milestone, schools are eligible to compete for the National Blue Ribbon.
The National Blue Ribbon Program was founded 35 years ago by the U.S. Department of Education to recognize public and private elementary, middle and high schools for their overall academic excellence or their progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups. Since its founding, more than 8,500 schools have been named as Blue Ribbon Schools throughout the country.
In addition to Glenarden Woods Elementary School, Pinewood Elementary School in Baltimore County, Mount Harmony Elementary School in Calvert County, Urbana High School in Frederick County, Clarksville Middle School in Howard County and Ocean City Elementary School in Worcester County were also given the titles of Blue Ribbon Schools.
“I would like to congratulate and commend the students, principal and teachers of Glenarden Woods Elementary School for their steadfast and combined efforts of excellence,” said County Executive Angela Alsobrooks.
“Our students are truly some of the best and brightest in the state and this Blue Ribbon award is yet another symbol of the consistency of instruction, administrative best practices, and high academic achievement.”
Known for its “culture of high standards and high performance,” according to PGCPS Interim CEO Monica Goldson, the schools have made great strides in achievement over the years.
With Maryland’s new five-star system unveiled at the beginning of December, Glenarden Woods was one of nine public schools throughout the county to receive a five-star rating. The students perform high on PARCC assessments as 82 percent of students met or exceeded expectations in English Language Arts and 79 percent reached or exceeded expectations in mathematics.
The school has a large Talented and Gifted (TAG) program that emphasizes science, technology, engineering, the arts and math, two Destination Imagination teams have participated in global competitions, its Science Bowl teams have won four championships and the school partners with Bowie State University to develop the next generation of teachers.
According to Bowlding, what makes her school stand out from the rest is that they teach the child and have strategies in place to ensure that every child is working at their ability level.
“We have enrichment, we have reinforcement groups, reteaching groups and at-risk groups and we target those skills efficient areas, and we work very in making sure that our students master those skill-based areas,” she said.
Although a TAG school, many students come in with gaps in their math, writing and reading skills. The school directly addresses where students may be lagging by pre- and post-testing all students to get the data they need to drive instruction to ensure that they are addressing all of the students’ needs.
“We want to continue to stay the course in the successes that we’re having with our students now,” Bowlding said. “We’re going to continue to focus on our students who are socially disadvantaged, our students who are not motivated, we get quite a few students who are not motivated and we work with them in their social and emotional realm to help them see that they are smart and that they have a talent and a gift.”
Glenarden Woods was already named as one of six National Blue Ribbon Schools from Maryland in 2006, and since 1982, 14 schools throughout Prince George’s County Public Schools have received Blue Ribbon awards with Eleanor Roosevelt High School earning state and national Blue Ribbon honors twice.
“Education has been a top priority of our administration,” Hogan said. “We’ve fully funded education in all jurisdictions four years in a row, and we went above and beyond the legislative formulas in full funding, more than what the formulas called for…we invested a record $25 billion in K-12 education and no governor in the history of Maryland has ever invested more in our schools.”
“Additionally, I would like to recognize and thank every parent and guardian for working with their children to ensure they are well prepared and able to reach their academic goals,” Alsobrooks said.
Bowlding said the school could not have reached this achievement alone and said that the help of the community would be essential to the continued success of Glenarden Woods.
“We continually collaborate and meet, and we continue to involve everyone, the parents, mentors, even our members of the church and Sunday schools teachers if we have to help us support the students here at Glenarden Woods.”