Sanford Elementary receives National Blue Ribbon award

Photo by Diane Drekmann Sanford Elementary was recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School — one of only four schools in Colorado to receive the honor.

SANFORD — Sanford Elementary was recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School — one of only four schools in Colorado to receive the honor.

The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program is an integral part of the U.S. Department of Education. The program recognizes excellence in traditional and non-traditional schools for other schools to emulate and create better schools.

The program looks at several criteria: school excellence, schools that underwent positive change, and schools that were able to close the subgroup achievement gap — in other words — a school where minorities and disadvantaged students achieve the same education goals as schools with more resources.

Sanford Elementary closed the subgroup achievement gap, according to Principal Dena Jaminet.

“The students were all achieving the same education goals at the same rate despite a large population of at risk and Title 1 (free and reduced lunch) students,” she said.

Out of 400 nominees, 297 schools from across the nation were chosen for the Blue Ribbon status. Each school will be honored in Washington, DC at an awards ceremony and presented with a plaque and flag to proudly show their commitment to excellence.

Sanford School District Superintendent Kevin Edgar, who is the brother of North Conejos School District Superintendent Darren Edgar, and Principal Jaminet will travel to Washington, DC in November to accept the award.

What makes Sanford Elementary successful? Since coming to Sanford Elementary four years ago, Jaminet has seen many positive changes. She shared some reasons for Sanford's success.

Two years ago, a program called Mustang Minutes was started.

“Each student receives 30 minutes of help every day with enrichment or intervention for what they need," Jaminet said.

Last year, a reading program was implemented to better align with Colorado State standards.

“Teachers go over data every day to meet students at their level to create better success," Jaminet added.

There are leadership teams with 100% student participation. Children are rewarded with tokens that can be used in their Book Vending Machine to receive a new book for positive behavior like being a good problem solver, being a good citizen, good listener, good communicator, behaviors necessary for future success.

To be an excellent school, there has to be a deep commitment, involvement, trust and support with everyone — from the superintendent, principals, school board, teachers, and parents united in wanting to provide a quality education for their children, school officials noted.

Sanford had a celebration with their students after receiving the National Blue Ribbon Award notification. They hope to celebrate with the community before going to Washington, DC.