'Great place to learn': Scott Elementary receives national award

News-DemocratSeptember 25, 2013 

Scott Elementary at Scott Air Force Base near Mascoutah, Ill., was just named a Blue Ribbon School. Their principal and students explain why the school stands out.


Fourth-grader Wyatt Jarvis, 9, is a big fan of his school -- Scott Elementary School at Scott Air Force Base.

"Everyone at the school has good manners," Wyatt said. "Everybody in this school is really, really nice; so far I don't know about any bullies."

Wyatt and other students at Scott Elementary have reason to praise the school: It was the only school in the metro-east recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a Blue Ribbon School.

"We certainly look at the award as a tremendous recognition of the hard work they do out there," said Craig Fiegel, superintendent of Mascoutah Community Unit School District 19. "I think they are very focused on trying to meet the needs of students."

The national award honors schools based on their overall academic excellence or their progress in improving student academic achievement.

Scott Elementary was recognized as a high-performing school as measured by state assessments or nationally-normed tests. According to the 2012 Illinois School Report Card, more than 95 percent of students at Scott Elementary met or exceeded standards on the state standardized test in reading, math and science. The school was nominated for the award by the Illinois State Board of Education.

"We are very honored to receive this award," Principal Cindy Presnell said. "It is a longtime coming in that our school has consistently met high academic standards for a number of years."

She attributes Scott Elementary's high test scores to its teachers, students and parents. "We maintain a high level of academic achievement and that's due in part to the due diligence of our teachers and making certain they are teaching to all levels of student ability," Presnell said. "We have phenomenal parents. They are very supportive and want a good solid education for their students."

She described Scott Elementary as a "great place to learn." The school serves 950 pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade students.

"This award is one that is owned by everyone here at Scott Elementary without our support staff, the work our teachers do and the work our students do, we would not be in the position to receive this honor," Presnell said.

Scott is among 286 public and private schools across the nation -- 21 in Illinois -- to earn the award. The U.S. Department of Education will honor Scott Elementary and the other Blue Ribbon schools at a recognition ceremony on Nov. 18-19 in Washington, D.C.

Ellis Elementary School in Belleville was previously selected as a Blue Ribbon School in 2008, and the former Belle Valley North school earned the national recognition in 2005. Illini Elementary School in Fairview Heights was honored as a Blue Ribbon School in 2004, and both Roosevelt and Henry Raab elementary schools in Belleville received the distinction in 2003.

Contact reporter Jamie Forsythe at 239-2562 or jforsythe1@bnd.com.

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