Turner elementary school receives national award for increasing student achievement

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BANGOR — Turner Elementary School in Androscoggin County was recognized by the U.S. Department of Education for academic excellence and “progress closing achievement gaps,” a statement released by the federal agency on Tuesday said.

Turner Elementary, with about 200 students in grades four through six, was one of 337 public and private schools nationwide to be recognized. The winners are named National Blue Ribbon Schools, an award that is bestowed on schools that qualify each year.

“This is a great honor,” Principal Cynthia Alexander said. “Turner Elementary has never been on the list.”

Alexander held an assembly to tell her students about the achievement on Tuesday. At the assembly, each teacher and staff member received a blue ribbon pin from Alexander as a thank you for their work.

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The school attempted to live-stream Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s announcement, but because of technical difficulties, the students were only able to see a few seconds of video, the principal said.

Alexander, who is in her fourth year as principal, attributed the school’s success to teacher professional development opportunities and the school’s efforts to education “the whole child,” not just focus on academics.

“We are constantly looking to improve and not do the same thing 25 years in a row,” she said. She added that school has a particularly strong arts and music program.

Last year the Williams-Cone School in Topsham was the only Maine school to win the award. In 2012, Hope Elementary School and Solon Elementary School each won and in 2011, Orono Middle School and Eliot Elementary School won.

Because the state uses different metrics to rate schools, the schools that make the national list do not necessarily earn the highest marks under Maine’s report card grading system. Turner Elementary, for example, received a C on its most recent Maine Department of Education-issued report card.

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