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  • Students of Shipley’s Choice Elementary have been buzzing with excitement knowing that their school has recognized with a National Blue Ribbon of Excellence.
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    Students of Shipley’s Choice Elementary have been buzzing with excitement knowing that their school has recognized with a National Blue Ribbon of Excellence.

Shipley’s Choice Elementary Awarded National Blue Ribbon Award

Dylan Roche
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December 5, 2017

Shipley’s Choice Elementary is no stranger to Blue Ribbon accreditation. It was in 1994 that the school received its first Maryland Blue Ribbon, a distinction it has maintained in the years since then.

But this year, Shipley’s Choice has achieved an even greater merit, joining nearly 300 public schools and 50 independent schools across the country that have been awarded the National Blue Ribbon of Excellence. “To become a National Blue Ribbon school, a school must first be selected as a Maryland State Blue Ribbon school,” said Principal Beth Burke. “Each year, the Maryland State Department of Education can identify up to six schools to receive a Maryland Blue Ribbon. This means that the school is in the top 15 percentile of all schools in the state for performance in reading and math on standardized test scores.”

After receiving the Maryland Blue Ribbon, award-winning schools have the chance of applying to become accredited with the National Blue Ribbon. The lengthy application spans several topics, including the demographics and the curriculum of the school.

The national achievement comes as no surprise to some of the teachers. Shelby Queen, who has taught at Shipley’s Choice Elementary since it opened in 1989, chalks it up to how involved all members of the school community are — the parents, the teachers and the administrators. “Everyone is so engaged in the academic and the betterment of the students,” she said.

Lucy Nash, who has taught at Shipley’s Choice for 14 years, echoed Queen’s sentiment. “I feel there has been tremendous support from our past and present administrators as well as support from the Shipley's community,” she said. “We are blessed by a community that values education and strives to continue on the path of accomplishments that has existed. This support has enabled our school to progress in technology improvements, which is so essential for our students today.”

Annual activities at Shipley’s Choice include the technology trot, the fall festival and the school’s Mini Rock ‘N’ Roll Revival, all traditions that bring families together to be engaged with the children’s growth and education. “Certain programs at Shipley's, such as Rock ‘N’ Roll Revival, allow the staff and students to work together toward a goal and have created bonds that will not be forgotten easily,” Nash said.

The school’s technology trot — which is organized by the PTA but has frequent participation from teachers and administrators — helps raise money for SMART boards, Chromebooks and other technology that keeps Shipley’s Choice on the cutting edge of education.

But technology isn’t the only change taking place in modern education, and Queen pointed out that the Shipley’s team teaches outside the box. “When I first started, students were focused on themselves and what they could do,” she said. “Now they have to work as a group or as a team. It sets them up to be a good coworker and know, ‘It’s not about me all the time.’ From kindergarten, they start learning how to work with other people.”

When it comes down to it, however, the Shipley’s educators agree that a school is only as good as the community around it. “It starts at home,” Queen said, “and the parents have prepared [the children] well at home. At school, I can honestly say everyone wants the children to excel.”

Nash described parents as being part of the “unique combination of personalities” that also includes the school’s administration, staff and students. “It is always the good people involved that make anything special,” she said.

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