Two schools honored

Published 9:42 pm Thursday, January 20, 2011

Two Suffolk school principals are praising their students, teachers and parents for the hard work that netted Northern Shores and Southwestern elementary schools prestigious awards from the Virginia Board of Education.

Only 728 schools earned the Virginia Index of Performance awards, which recognize “performance that far exceeds minimum state and federal standards,” said state Superintendent of Public Instruction Patricia I. Wright.

“It just shows we’re continuing to work toward the goals we should be working toward,” said Bethanne Bradshaw, public information and community relations officer for Suffolk Public Schools. “We’re glad that our schools got recognized. We’d love for more to [be recognized].”

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A number of criteria are considered in giving the awards, including meeting state and federal benchmarks, graduation rates, participation in preschool programs, nutrition and physical activity.

The awards are given in four tiers. The top tier is the Governor’s Award for Educational Excellence. The other tiers are the Excellence awards, Competence to Excellence awards and Rising Star awards.

Northern Shores was recognized with an Excellence Award, which is given to schools that have met all state and federal benchmarks for at least two consecutive years and have made significant progress toward goals for increased student achievement and expanded educational opportunities.

“We have hardworking students, parents and teachers in the classrooms,” said Tara Moore, principal at Northern Shores. “We have a supportive staff, and we have many volunteers that come in on a daily basis.”

Moore added the award is “something to be proud of.”

“It goes back down to the ones in the trenches getting the work done and following through with what the state requires us to do.”

Southwestern was recognized with a Competence to Excellence Award, which honors schools that have met all state and federal benchmarks for at least two consecutive years and are making progress toward the goals of the governor and the board.

“We’re so excited,” said Nancy Harrell, principal of Southwestern. “We do have hardworking students and staff. I definitely commend the staff for working really hard so that we can receive this honor. It’s nice to be recognized.”

More information about the program is available on the Department of Education’s website,