Principal Derek Burns traveled to Baltimore last week to accept Crofton Meadows Elementary's Maryland Blue Ribbon School of Excellence award and made it back in time to direct traffic out of the school's parking lot. The first-year principal scarcely paused long enough to gauge responses from students, parents and staff, whose efforts made it Anne Arundel County's 15th state Blue Ribbon school.
Burns isn't one to stand idle. He readily credits his predecessor, Janine Robinson, with guiding the school during the past few years; her leadership, he said, helped Crofton Meadows post 100 percent marks in five categories in the Maryland School Assessments and a 98 percent mark in a sixth MSA category. All of Crofton Meadows' students met the state's 2011 annual goals in reading, math and attendance. Burns said he hopes to keep up the good work.
Crofton Meadows' Blue Ribbon award, he said, "means we need to keep our sights high and that bar raised, just keep moving forward. It's a great challenge to keep moving because we're already doing such a wonderful job."
Burns added that the school has set a goal of having 50 percent of its students score at advanced levels on the MSA, and one day reaching 100 percent in advanced scores.
Anne Arundel school officials said Crofton Meadows is the 10th county elementary school to earn the Blue Ribbon award, which is given to schools that excel or show significant improvement in state math and reading assessments. The county has had six schools receive Blue Ribbon honors in the past eight years, officials said.
Crofton Meadows is eligible to become a National Blue Ribbon School; Severna Park High received that honor last year.
Robinson, who now works as the county school system's senior manager for elementary school improvement, said the award reflects the work the school has done with parents and the business community to ensure that students excel. She credited programs that reach out to kids before they enroll in school to develop early literacy skills.
"This honor and this prestigious award rest on the shoulders of some extraordinary teachers who go above and beyond every day to meet the needs of all of our students," Robinson said. "They think outside of the box, using innovative and creative approaches to support kids socially and emotionally, as well as academically. They come in early to meet with small groups; they stay late to tutor children."
Crofton Meadows teaching assistant Toni Barrett, the parent of two children who attended the school, said it instilled lessons that "will carry them through middle school and high school. They learned good study habits. They learned how to be good persons. They learned that all teachers are different but still great. And they've learned that they are empowered to do whatever they want to do. Mrs. Robinson was a huge part of that."
Barrett said many of the students don't fully understand what the Blue Ribbon designation is all about, but they know that it is a major award.
Burns said the school plans to celebrate the students' accomplishments so they recognize what they've achieved.
"We sent a letter to our parents, and our teachers told them," Burns said. "I think some of the older kids do [understand], and we'll let the others know what an honor it is that we are the only school in Anne Arundel County, out of so many, who got it."