By Ryan Berry
VERSAILLES – Versailles Elementary School received great news in recent weeks. The school earned the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program award. The award recognizes school districts across the country that have achieved academic excellence. The Versailles Exempted Village School District (VEVSD) previously received this award in 2014 when Versailles Middle School was recognized.
Principal Brenda Braun, shared it took nearly a year for the school to complete the application process and the test scores were based on the third and fourth graders that are now fifth and sixth graders. “We are proud of the accomplishments of our students and staff and feel honored to be recognized by the US Department of Education.” She continued, “This week has been a time to celebrate the hard work, dedication and focus of our students, staff, families, and community as evidenced by the Blue Ribbon Award as well as the district’s recently announced report card results and state ranking. We will continue to be driven by our district’s commitment to educate, prepare and to challenge all students to demonstrate integrity, responsibility and respect in society. It is a great day to be a Versailles Tiger and celebrate learning!” The district is ranked in the top five percent of schools in Ohio.
Braun’s fourth grade staff agreed that it isn’t just the teachers or students that make this award possible. Parents and community are very important for a school to achieve academic excellence. Jeremy Riley, a 28-year veteran of the district, said it isn’t just the students and staff putting in the hard work, but it is also the community, “We’re all working together to provide the best education we can for each kid. It’s nice to be recognized for the work that we do.”
Kathy Bergman has been with the district for 23 years. She said, “There is a lot of dedication in this community and this building and it takes everybody to make a Blue Ribbon School. It’s not just the teachers, not just the students, not just the parents. It’s a combination.”
It is very evident the teachers are concerned about their students’ education and because the staff has longevity in their positions, it is up to them to evolve to a changing world. Jenny Meyer, who is in her 13th year at Versailles, said, “Change is the biggest change. You can figure out what worked well, but that doesn’t mean that’s what you are going to do again. You’re going to continue to look at how to make what you did before work with this new group of students.” She said you can celebrate the successes you’ve had, but you are always looking to tweak and improve with the new group of kids coming in.
Riley added that when he started they were still using chalk and chalkboard and there were no computers in the classroom. “We’ve had to change how we get information to students,” said Bergman. The current group of students are used to instant feedback and the district has had to find a way to meet those needs.
According to Bergman, testing has also evolved and now helps teachers be better teachers. Twenty years ago, test results were vague, but today they are loaded with information that teachers can use to their advantage. They can be better teachers.
Julie McEldowney is in her 27th year as a teacher at Versailles and commented on the award, “It’s an honor. I feel like here in Versailles, we work very hard to focus on the kids’ needs. We kind of go above and beyond to help make them successful. It’s confirmation that we’re doing the right thing and on the right track. Things are constantly changing and you’re making adjustments. It just feels like what you’re doing is working.”
Aaron Moran, superintendent at VEVSD, added, “This award is a reflection of the dedication and hard work of our students and staff over the last three years. I am particularly proud of the focus and improvements to instruction made by staff to grow our students to reach their potential. We as a district will continue to strive to improve our instructional practices and opportunities for the success of each of our students.”
Versailles Elementary was one of 13 schools in the state to earn this honor. U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown released a statement saying, “I am proud of the work done by Ohio’s Blue Ribbon Schools to help secure a bright future for our students.” He continued, “These schools, and many others across our state, are setting a high bar and setting Ohio’s next generation up for success.”
To contact Daily Advocate Editor Ryan Berry, email [email protected].