Bridgewater-Emery Elementary named a National Blue Ribbon School

Sep. 19—BRIDGEWATER, S.D. — Three South Dakota schools, including Bridgewater-Emery Elementary School in Bridgewater, have been identified as National Blue Ribbon Schools by the U.S. Department of Education. The award recognizes schools for their excellence in overall academic performance or for their progress in closing the achievement gap among diverse groups of students.

The South Dakota Department of Education congratulated the schools on this achievement and their commitment to South Dakota students.

"Congratulations to South Dakota's newest Blue Ribbon schools, their staff, students and communities," said Joseph Graves, secretary of education for South Dakota. "They demonstrate what can be achieved when resourceful educators and engaged students put their values into action."

The other South Dakota schools named as National Blue Ribbon Schools include Fred Assam Elementary School, which is part of the Brandon Valley School District, and Castlewood High School.

Jason Bailey, superintendent of the Bridgewater-Emery School District, said the award is a credit to faculty, staff and students who call the district home. The award is a school-wide honor, he said, and everyone contributes something vital to the processes that lead to success.

"I'm very proud of our staff and students," Bailey told the Mitchell Republic on Tuesday. "It's the team approach and the quality of staff we have here."

Bailey said he plans to meet with teachers and staff at the elementary school to congratulate them on the award, which is the first of its kind received by the district.

"We're going to have a meeting in the morning to discuss it with the elementary staff to tell them how proud we are of them and congratulations," Bailey said.

State officials said the schools serve as models of effective practices for other educators in South Dakota and schools throughout the nation. All three of the schools recognized in South Dakota are honored for their high student scores in English and mathematics.

Each school stands out for its unique approach to education.

Bridgewater-Emery Elementary, for example, focuses on meaningful community engagement. Students have opportunities to visit senior centers, nearby Hutterite colonies, local businesses, and other points of interest. These experiences, combined with strong in-class instruction, create engaged, informed students.

Fred Assam Elementary's Walk to Read process has improved literacy for students at every grade level. The process focuses on assessing each child's reading level and providing the right reading instruction for their ability level. The school's administration also emphasizes the importance of collaboration and planning time for teachers at the school.

Castlewood High School works to provide students with the encouragement to take rigorous classes that match their ability level. It's a small school that keeps students well-rounded by providing high-quality academic, athletic, and performance opportunities, which are boosted by a supportive community.