St. Gregory's nominated to be Blue Ribbon School

Published on Monday, 3 February 2014 23:27 - Written by Emily Guevara, eguevara@tylerpaper.com

St. Gregory Cathedral School has been nominated to be a National Blue Ribbon School for the third time.

The designation, given by the U.S. Department of Education, recognizes public and private elementary, middle and high schools for high levels of student achievement or substantial improvement in academic performance, according to the program website.

St. Gregory received the designation in 1999 and 2006 for high levels of student achievement.

Principal Kathy Shieldes Harry said it is amazing for the school to be nominated again.

“We’re just elated for the whole community, the faculty, staff, children all around,” she said.

For private schools, the Council for American Private Education, or CAPE, nominates schools that meet the Blue Ribbon recognition criteria, according to a webpage about the program.

In order to be eligible for the award, St. Gregory had to meet two main standards. First, student performance on a nationally normed and/or state test must place the school in the top 15 percent nationally in reading/English language arts and math.

Second, disaggregated results for individual student demographic groups must be similar to the results for all tested students, according to the webpage.

Nonpublic high schools have a third standard. Their most recent graduation rate must be 95 percent or higher.

St. Gregory submitted an application to the Council for American Private Education. Ms. Harry said the school’s application is now going to the U.S. Department of Education, which will screen all the applications and make a determination in September.

“For us it just validates that we’re continuing to do good things,” Ms. Harry said of the nomination. “We don’t want to rest on our laurels.”

Ms. Harry said about 10 percent of the school’s student body has learning differences, such as dyslexia, Asperger’s syndrome or mild autism. St. Gregory serves almost 300 students.

“For us, the message is you can have a quality program,” she said. “You can certainly have children in your school that have … learning … needs and they can still excel.”

Dr. James Klassen, superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Tyler, praised the awards process because it considers schools that are effective with the students they have. It’s designed in a way to consider the performance of all students.

“It really is wonderful that we are honoring the schools that truly are doing good things and great things with the children they have in there,” he said.

If St. Gregory ultimately receives the National Blue Ribbon designation, two representatives from the school, are invited to attend the recognition ceremony in Washington, D.C., according to the website.

Public and private schools can be nominated for the award once every five years, according to the website.