The Wemrock Brook School in Manalapan has earned the national Blue Ribbon award for high student achievement for 2021. The award is presented by the U.S. Department of Education.
Nine schools in New Jersey achieved Blue Ribbon status in the most recent round of recognition, according to a press release from the New Jersey Department of Education.
According to its website, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program “recognizes public and private elementary, middle and high schools based on their overall academic excellence or their progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups.
“Every year the U.S. Department of Education seeks out and celebrates great American schools, schools demonstrating that all students can achieve to high levels.
“Now in its 39th year, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has bestowed more than 10,000 awards to over 9,000 schools, with some schools winning multiple awards. Schools are eligible for nomination after five years.
“The coveted National Blue Ribbon School award affirms the hard work of students, educators, families and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging and engaging content.
“The National Blue Ribbon School flag gracing an entry or flying overhead is a widely recognized symbol of exemplary teaching and learning,” according to the website.
Nicole Santora is the superintendent of schools in the Manalapan-Englishtown Regional School District and Rebecca Seery is the principal of the Wemrock Brook School, which enrolls about 570 pupils in kindergarten through fifth grade.
“Being recognized as a National Blue Ribbon school is a tremendous honor and accomplishment. We are so very proud of Dr. Seery, the staff at Wemrock Brook School and the effort they put forth to ensure all of their students have high levels of achievement,” Santora told the News Transcript.
In comments to the News Transcript, Seery said, “Wemrock Brook School has been designated an Exemplary High Performing Schools National Blue Ribbon School for 2021 by U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona.
“Our school is one of 325 schools in the nation and one of nine schools from New Jersey to be recognized in 2021. Exemplary High Performing Schools are among their state’s highest performing schools as measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests.
“We would like to thank our dedicated staff, outstanding students and parents, Dr. Santora, (Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Human Resources) Ms. (Jodi) Pepchinski and the Board of Education for their ongoing support of our school. We are so proud of this accomplishment and will continue to strive for excellence,” Seery said.
“In the announcement, Secretary Cardona stated, ‘This year’s cohort of honorees demonstrates what is possible when committed educators and school leaders create vibrant, welcoming and affirming school cultures where rich teaching and learning can flourish.’
“Secretary Cardona commended our school and all the Blue Ribbon honorees ‘for working to keep students healthy and safe while meeting their academic, social, emotional and mental health needs.’
“He stated, ‘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 we can truly build back better,’ ” Seery said.
The Blue Ribbon website includes a description of the Wemrock Brook School which states, “At Wemrock Brook School, we embody the mantra ‘One Team. No Limits.’ We believe that by working together as a team, there is no limit to what each student can accomplish.
“We prepare our students for the future by focusing on each child’s academic, social and emotional needs. Using a student-centered approach to learning, we are committed to fostering student growth.
“Our staff has become proficient in using data to monitor student learning and provide individualized instruction, to remediate academic gaps or provide enrichment opportunities. Furthermore, book clubs, Professional learning communities meetings, and personalized professional development helps ensure our staff continues to grow.
“At Wemrock Brook School, we foster positive relationships with students, staff, parents and community members. Students are reminded about the importance of being kind through our annual ‘Year of Kindness Campaign.’ This school-wide initiative is partnered with many other culture-building activities.
“We celebrate staff successes with our ‘pawsome’ awards and celebrate student success through our ‘Wonderful Wildcat’ program. When students feel safe and secure in their school, they are more likely to take risks, rise to challenges and reach their full potential,” the description states.
New Jersey Acting Commissioner of Education Angelica Allen-McMillan said, “The entire school community in each of these nine (New Jersey) districts should be proud of this prestigious recognition.
“A quality education is one that involves all stakeholders, from classroom teachers and parents, to school administrators and support staff, as well as policymakers at the state and national levels,” she said.
National Blue Ribbon schools are honored at an annual awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., during which each school receives a plaque and a flag to signify its exemplary status.
Santora said she and Seery will attend the awards ceremony on Nov. 4-5.