Originally created 01/18/01

Local schools earn honor for excellence



To Riverside Middle School Principal Sandra Carraway, learning her school had been named a School of Excellence was like earning all A's on her report card.

"It's a real honor for the teachers, for all their time and hard work," Ms. Carraway said.

Riverside Middle School and Waynesboro Primary School have been named Schools of Excellence, two of 20 schools throughout the state recognized for the honor by the Georgia Department of Education.

Linda Bailey, the principal at Waynesboro Primary, which has 960 pupils in pre-kindergarten through second grade, said this is the first time a Burke County school has received the honor.

"We were ecstatic," Ms. Bailey said. "It's a culmination of years of hard work. It's not something that happens overnight. It's not just an honor for the school; it's an honor for the community. They are there for us and support us every step of the way."

The Georgia Schools of Excellence Program, which began in 1984, is not a ranking of the schools in Georgia but an attempt to recognize outstanding programs from all of the state's congressional districts. Each school district is invited to nominate one elementary, one middle or junior high and one high school to the program.

It is possible for 33 schools to be named Georgia Schools of Excellence each year: one in each of the three categories from each of Georgia's 11 congressional districts.

Lakeside High School earned the honor in the 1998-99 school year, Columbia County school Superintendent Tommy Price said.

Each school that is nominated must complete a lengthy application, a self-assessment that covers such things as standardized-test scores, pupil involvement in activities, and faculty professional development and membership in professional organizations, Ms. Carraway said.

Program finalists were evaluated by a team from the Georgia Department of Education. Ms. Carraway said her school was visited in December.

Ms. Carraway said she is looking forward to posting the School of Excellence flags and road signs that come with the honor.

State school Superintendent Linda Schrenko will hold a banquet April 19 for the Schools of Excellence. The program is a steppingstone for the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program.

Reach Melissa Hall at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 113.