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Two Spring Lake schools nominated for national award

Krystle Wagner • Feb 19, 2018 at 8:00 AM

SPRING LAKE — The ongoing efforts at two local elementary schools are receiving national recognition.

Holmes and Jeffers elementary schools have both been nominated as Exemplary High Performing Schools for the U.S. Department of Education’s National Blue Ribbon Award. 

Having two among the 13 Michigan schools nominated for this year’s awards is a point of pride for the district, and it’s recognition for their efforts, Spring Lake Public Schools Superintendent Dennis Furton said.

To Furton’s knowledge, the nominations are a first for the Spring Lake district.

Furton said he’s proud of the teachers, principals and the district’s curriculum director, Scott Ely, and the results show that their efforts are working.

“They’ve done a nice job preparing our students to succeed,” Furton said.

Jeffers Elementary School Principal Shelley Peets said she was thrilled their accomplishments are being recognized.

“We have worked very hard over the past several years to get to where we are today and it is wonderful to be recognized for that work,” she said.

After receiving the notification, Holmes Elementary School Principal Sandra Smits said she looks forward to sharing the news with staff members because they work hard every day to make an impact in their students’ lives.

“This hard work is not only academic, but from a social-emotional standpoint, as well,” Smits said. “They are a great staff that cares deeply for the children that come to Holmes each day. The hard work and dedication pays off.”

Furton said he attributes the success to a team effort beginning with hard-working teachers, building leadership teams focused on providing the right assessments and making sure they make informed decisions on curriculum. The superintendent said Ely has also done a “great job” providing the right processes and support to staff members so they can be successful.

Smits and Peets attribute their schools’ success to the district’s families and Board of Education, and staff members including Furton, Ely, reading coach Mary Cotterall, Special-Education Director Adrian Breting and Director of Operations Liz Boeve. Smits said it “truly takes a village.”

Peets said that everyone plays an “integral part” to helping students succeed, and it isn’t possible without them.

“We have an incredible group of teachers who make it their mission to do whatever it takes for their students,” she said. “They never stop and they never give up on their kids. And also to the support staff — they step in and take care of whatever needs to be done for the kids.”

Next, both elementary schools will fill out applications for the award program. The 2018 National Blue Ribbon Schools will be announced in the fall.

Grand Haven’s Griffin Elementary School was named a 2016 National Blue Ribbon School.

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