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Todd Elementary School Thrilled About National Blue Ribbon Recognition

Nadine McDermott, left, principal of the Tood Elementary School in Briarcliff, takes a question from a student at last year's Habits of Mind exercises.
Nadine McDermott, left, principal of the Tood Elementary School in Briarcliff, takes a question from a student at last year's Habits of Mind exercises. Photo Credit: Briarcliff Union Free School District

BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. -- A Briarcliff school has made it onto the list of National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2016.

According to its principal, Nadine McDermott, everyone at the Todd Elementary School is understandably thrilled and proud that it was awarded the prestigious designation.

Blue Ribbon schools are chosen for their overall academic excellence or for their progress in closing achievement gaps among students.

Three other schools in the Hudson Valley were also among the recipients: Blind Brook High School in Rye Brook (Westchester); Haldane High School in Cold Spring (Putnam) and Nanuet Senior High School in Nanuet (Rockland).

Todd was tapped because it is an “exceptionally high-performing” school, McDermott said Thursday.

Todd, which houses kindergarten through the fifth grade, has more than 500 students, she said.

For the past several years, it has been considered as “reward school” by the state Department of Education because of its high achievement levels, which are based on test scores, McDermott said.

There were 329 schools chosen in all, according to U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr.

The fact that there are so many “are proof that we can prepare every child for college and meaningful careers, King said in a video message to the honorees.

"Your schools are on the cutting edge, pioneering innovative educational practices -- professional learning communities, project-based learning, social and emotional learning, positive behavior systems -- making you shining examples for your communities, your state and the nation,” he added.

Students and staff at Todd gathered in the auditorium this week to watch King’s video presentation, McDermott said.

The school’s Blue Ribbon committee is meeting soon to plan a bigger celebration that will include parents and other community stakeholders.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Education will formally recognize the recipients -- 279 public and 50 private schools -- at awards ceremonies on Nov. 7 and 8 in Washington, D.C.

McDermott said she plans to attend with one of the school’s fourth-grade teachers, Lorraine McDermott (no relation).

The award, the principal said, is a “recognition of six years of hard work” on the part of staff, students, administrators, and parents on the school’s goals of “literacy, numeracy and empathy.”

McDermott also credited the school’s participation in an initiative put forth by The Institute for Habits of Mind.

The program’s affiliates strive to create, the institute said on its website, “to create a more thoughtful, cooperative, compassionate generation of people who skillfully work to resolve social, environmental, economic and political problems.”

A more “thoughtful” learning environment helps kids learn to be flexible and creative in their approach to problem solving and the way they handle challenges, said McDermott, who has written extensively on the subject herself.

To see a video of King’s address to the Blue Ribbon schools, click here.

To see the entire list of recipients, or to read a brief description of the individual schools, click here.

For more about the Todd Elementary School, click here.

To read a related story, click here.

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