Education Secretary Celebrates Top Schools and Their Leaders at 2011 National Blue Ribbon Schools Awards Ceremony

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Education Secretary Celebrates Top Schools and Their Leaders at 2011 National Blue Ribbon Schools Awards Ceremony

Seven principals honored with Terrel H. Bell Awards for outstanding leadership in challenging situations

November 15, 2011

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today honored 315 schools as the 2011 National Blue Ribbon Schools at an awards luncheon at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C. The Blue Ribbon School award honors public and private elementary, middle and high schools that have helped close the achievement gap and whose students attain and maintain high academic goals. The schools—266 public and 49 private—are among more than 6,000 that have received the coveted award over the past 29 years.

"America's long-term economic prosperity and civic engagement depends on our children receiving a world-class education," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "National Blue Ribbon Schools are committed to accelerating student achievement and preparing students for success in college and careers. Their success is an example for others to follow."

Additionally, seven principals from the 2011 Blue Ribbon Schools were selected for special honors to recognize their leadership. At a breakfast ceremony today, they received the Terrel H. Bell Award for their outstanding work in fostering successful teaching and learning. The award is named after the former secretary of education to honor exceptional leaders who overcome challenging circumstances and maintain committed to providing an excellent education for every student.

"You can't have a great school without a great principal," Duncan said. "It's the principal who shapes the vision, sets the tone, and targets the energy of the many people who run a school. It's the principal who inspires, cajoles, and models the excellence he or she knows the school can reach. We don't celebrate success enough in education—and the Bell Award recognizes principals for the essential work they do every day."

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:

  • Karen Daugherty, Rose Tree Elementary School, Media, PA
  • Deirdra Gardner, Piedmont Open Middle School, Charlotte, NC
  • Nichole Heyen, Lincoln Magnet School, Springfield, IL
  • Lauren Kinney, Sundance Elementary School, Beaumont, CA
  • Traci Jackson, Shirley Hills Elementary School, Warner Robins, GA
  • Karen Noble, Hillcrest Elementary School, Nederland, TX
  • Jack Spatola, Beacon School of Excellence, PS 172, Brooklyn, NY

The Bell Award is part of the Blue Ribbon Schools Program. More information about Blue Ribbon Schools can be found at A list of the 2011 Blue Ribbon Schools is available at