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U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan Celebrates 314 Schools as 2012 National Blue Ribbon Schools

Seven principals honored with Terrel H. Bell Award for outstanding leadership

Press Office, (202) 401-1576,

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today will honor 314 schools as 2012 National Blue Ribbon Schools at an awards luncheon at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C. The award honors public and private elementary, middle, and high schools based on their overall academic excellence or for their progress toward significantly improving student academic achievement levels. The schools—264 public and 50 private, are among more than 7,000 that have received the coveted award over the past 30 years.

"Our nation has no greater responsibility than helping all children realize their full potential," Duncan said. "Schools honored with the National Blue Ribbon Schools award are committed to accelerating student achievement and preparing students for success in college and careers. Their work reflects the conviction that every child has promise and that education is the surest pathway to a strong, secure future."

Additionally, seven principals from the 2012 National Blue Ribbon Schools were selected for special honors to recognize their leadership. At a breakfast ceremony today, these principals received the Terrel H. Bell Award for their outstanding efforts to foster successful teaching and learning. The award is named after the former secretary of education and honors exceptional leaders who overcome challenging circumstances and maintain a commitment to providing an excellent education for every student.

The Terrel H. Bell Awards were presented to the following principals by the U.S. Department of Education, together with the National Association of Elementary School Principals, the Association for Middle Level Education and the National Association of Secondary School Principals:

Principal School City State
Pam Camper Russell D. Jones Elementary School Rogers Arkansas
Christopher Todd Hall Pocomoke Elementary School Pocomoke City Maryland
Blaine Helwig J. Walter Graham Elementary School Austin Texas
Tracy McDaniel KIPP Reach College Preparatory School Oklahoma City Oklahoma
James Mireles Garden City High School Garden City Kansas
Dianne Reynolds Spencer Elementary School Mobile Alabama
Liana Szeto Alice Fong Yu Alternative School San Francisco California

The National Blue Ribbon Schools program recognizes schools in one of two performance categories. The first category is "Exemplary High Performing," in which schools are recognized among their state's highest performing schools, as measured by state assessments or nationally-normed tests. The second category is "Exemplary Improving," in which schools where at least 40 percent of students are from disadvantaged backgrounds demonstrate the most progress in improving student achievement levels, as measured by state assessments or nationally-normed tests.

To select the schools, the Department requests nominations from the top education official in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Department of Defense Education Activity, and the Bureau of Indian Education. The Council for American Private Education (CAPE) nominates private schools. A total of 417 schools nationwide may be nominated, with allocations determined by the numbers of K-12 students and schools in each jurisdiction. The Secretary of Education invites nominated schools to submit an application for possible recognition as a National Blue Ribbon School.

The Terrel H. Bell Award is part of the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program. Principals are nominated by their school communities during the final stages of the National Blue Ribbon Schools application process.

A list of the 2012 National Blue Ribbon Schools is available at