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Two GH schools nominated for national award

Krystle Wagner • Feb 24, 2018 at 11:00 AM

Lake Hills and Rosy Mound elementary schools have been nominated for the National Blue Ribbon Award.

The two Grand Haven schools are among 13 in Michigan to receive nominations. Spring Lake’s Holmes and Jeffers elementary schools have also been nominated.

“Our entire district is so proud of our staff, students and parents at Lake Hills and Rosy Mound,” said Andy Ingall, superintendent for Grand Haven Area Public Schools.

Lake Hills Principal Jason Lawson said he’s humbled and proud of the staff, students and families.

“It’s a partnership,” he said.

During the past four years, Lawson said they put in a “tremendous amount of work” to raise student achievement after being named a “Focus School” by the Michigan Department of Education. “Focus Schools” are among 10 percent of the state’s schools with the largest gap between the highest- and lowest-achieving students.

Since then, the Lake Hills staff has intentionally focused on curriculum and provided targeted interventions to help raise achievement levels. Lawson said every staff meeting has a purpose, and they’re looking at instructional practices.

After implementing changes and having a “whatever it takes” mindset, the school became a “Reward School.” Lawson said the entire staff works to provide students with anything they need to achieve at high levels.

The school’s positive vibe and culture from support staff to teachers is something substitute teachers comment on, Lawson said.

Rosy Mound Principal Kevin Blanding said the recognition is an affirmation for the work they’ve been doing, and it was nice sharing the exciting news with the school’s staff.

As the schools begin the application process, Blanding said it has started conversations within the school and focused staff on reflecting on what they’re doing to help students be successful. The application includes answering questions about the school’s values, culture, climate, curriculum, instructional methods, strategies for success, engaging families and community members, and sharing data.

In discussing what makes their school successful, Blanding said his staff included reasons such as a focus on student leadership, family focus and relationships, and dedicated parents/teachers/support staff. The Leader in Me program they’ve implemented has also been a large influence on the school’s success, he said. 

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

“These nominations are a validation for the day-to-day hard work our entire staff puts forth for our children,” Ingall said.

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