Jeremy Ranch Elementary has been recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School for 2017, the first school in Park City School District to receive the award.
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced the recognition this morning, Sept. 28, via a live-stream on the U.S. Department of Education’s website. The award signifies exemplary teaching and learning and affirms the hard work of students, educators, families, and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging content.
Principal Shawn Kuennen, who has been principal at Jeremy Ranch Elementary since 2008, is proud to lead the high-performing school. “This is a tremendous honor for Jeremy Ranch Elementary to be recognized as a Blue Ribbon School. The credit for this distinction is wide-ranging, but can be summarized by high levels of collaboration,” said Kuennen. “Our teachers, of course, are masters of collaboration, as they strive to meet the needs of all students. But more than that, we have collaboration throughout the school and the neighborhood. Our PTO, our office staff, our kitchen staff, counselors, custodians, bus drivers, and district office staff all work together for the benefit of our students. And our students work hard every day.”
The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, recognizes two outstanding public and non-public schools in each state. The program celebrates school excellence, turn around stories, and closing subgroup achievement gaps. The Chief State School Officer in each state nominates public schools.
Kuennen credits the faculty and staff for the honor because it has long functioned as a team that “lifts and supports each other while also providing unique and high-quality educational opportunities which benefit our students on a daily basis.”
The teaming structure is not new to the faculty. Three years ago the school formalized its teaming process by adopting and implementing the Professional Learning Community (PLC) model. “We continue to incorporate and refine our PLC practices into daily school operations. As such, we identify ways to share the many responsibilities our teachers juggle, while also creating individualized learning opportunities that meet all students at their place of academic need,” Kuennen said. “The faculty strives to provide experiences with the whole child in mind.”
The school’s character education highlights the core traits of Honesty, Caring, Respect, and Responsibility, and endeavor to recognize students for what they do well. Students are also provided with opportunities in Music, Physical Education, Computational Thinking/Coding, Healthy Lifestyles, and Library Media on a schedule that rotates each day.
Jeremy Ranch Elementary is a French dual-immersion school, where students spend 50 percent of the day in a French-speaking classroom. Those not in immersion, are educated in a more traditional classroom model with the added component of STEM instruction twice weekly.
Another hallmark of the school is its Masterpieces In Art (MIA) program, which is a hands-on, self-sustaining, parent-run, monthly experience in art for all students. The PTO has also been the conduit to provide students with opportunities to participate in a massive Science Fair, made all the more authentic with the use of community scientists volunteering their time to judge student projects.
Kuennen shares the honor with the school’s engaged Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) has developed and nurtured a culture of support for our teachers and students in numerous ways over the years.
The school’s PTO runs the largest Scholastic book fair in the state of Utah, twice each year, and funnels the proceeds into each classroom. The PTO also provides grants to teachers who need funding for their innovative ideas.
The school will be honored at an awards ceremony Nov. 6-7 in Washington, D.C.