Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
Fort Leavenworth leaders and Unified School District 207 district staff and school board members gathered together to recognize Bradley Elementary School as a 2020 National Blue Ribbon Exemplary High Performing School in a socially distanced ceremony Oct. 26 at the district office.
Bradley staff and faculty watched the ceremony via Facebook live from the school’s auditorium.
“During a time in education where every aspect of normal school has been altered, one thing remains true — a continued focus in Fort Leavenworth schools on education and academic growth for every student,” said Keith Mispagel, superintendent of schools. “Bradley Elementary’s selection as a 2020 National Blue Ribbon School signifies and recognizes the ongoing pursuit of excellence. … The collaboration and teamwork of all staff members every year continues to be a key factor in educating all students.”
The National Blue Ribbon Exemplary High Performing School award indicates each state’s highest achieving students — the top 15 percent in English and mathematics, which is measured by state assessment results. Each public school is nominated by the chief state school officer.
For 2020, 367 schools were selected as award recipients nationwide. Bradley was one of six in the state of Kansas, and it is the first time a USD 207 school has been chosen for the award.
“This nomination and selection of Bradley Elementary as a National Blue Ribbon School recognizes the ongoing efforts of all our schools and district administration toward academics and social-emotional growth for all students,” said Mike Griswold, school board president. “With social distancing and other safety measures in place in USD 207 during the COVID-19 pandemic, the district continues to pursue its vision of creating lifelong learners and future leaders with 21st century skills.
“Bradley staff, thank you for your dedication, hard work and adaptability,” he said. “You have combined these three attributes in such a way that Bradley students continue to perform in an exemplary fashion.”
While the official award from Washington, D.C., will be received at a later date, Lt. Gen. James Rainey, Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth commanding general, presented a certificate of appreciation to Michael Burrow, Bradley principal, who accepted it on behalf of the school.
“I asked if I could come over and be part of this ceremony because I believe you never pass up a chance to recognize excellence,” Rainey said. “I think that is a fundamental skill to have as a leader. It’s important and you guys are absolutely excellent.
“A lot of people talk about the Army, and you’ve probably heard that 1 percent of America decides to serve. I don’t know what percent of America decides to commit their life to be in public education, but I bet it’s pretty small also. The Army and the military has cornered the market of being selfless servants of our country, but I think you all fall into that same category,” he said.
“There’s a natural nexus between the military and education and, personally, I think the biggest strength we have as a country and maybe the biggest threat to our national security is our education system. When you think about it, everything that makes our country great is underpinned by having the best education system and public education system because it drives our economy and generates these great young men and women who serve our country in the military and become teachers themselves. I can’t say enough about how important what you do is and how awesome you are at it and how proud of you we are.”
Burrow said the award is an example of the district support and the team effort of Bradley staff, parents and students.
“I’m so proud to be part of this team,” he said.
Colleen Toliver, Bradley first-grade teacher, spoke on behalf of the staff.
“This prestigious achievement is a testament to the hard work that we have done and continue to do as teachers and staff and administrators at Bradley and in the district … and it’s also part of the hard work that our students have done,” Toliver said. “We strive to have high achievement for all of our students in the short time that they’re with us while meeting their social and emotional needs. It takes the teamwork of every staff member at Bradley, as well as the teamwork of families and parents and of students, so we will celebrate this honor as we continue to do what we do.”
To view the full ceremony, visit the Fort Leavenworth School District Facebook page.