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Three New Mexico schools were selected this year

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FARMINGTON — Newcomb Elementary School was selected as one of the state’s three National Blue Ribbon schools this year, adding to the accolades the school has received this year.

The U.S. Department of Education announced on Tuesday that 335 schools nationwide were selected as part of the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program, which demonstrates academic excellence or progress in closing achievement gaps, according to a national education department press release.

Newcomb Elementary was selected along with Melrose Elementary School and Mora High School.

According to a New Mexico Public Education Department release, Newcomb Elementary was selected as an Exemplary High Performing School, while Melrose Elementary and Mora High schools were recognized as Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing schools.

State Secretary of Education Hanna Skandera said she spoke to Principal Deborah Belone on Tuesday and told her to keep leading the charge and the state of New Mexico is proud of them.

“Parents, students, teachers and (Belone) can stand tall and proud,” Skandera said.

This isn’t the first award for Newcomb Elementary. The school was one of 100 schools nationwide selected as a National Title 1 Distinguished School for 2014 in January.

Skandera said the state recommended Newcomb Elementary as a Title 1 school because of the school’s high performance in delivering quality education with high expectations of students.

Belone said the school was very proud to receive the award. She credited the award to the school's leadership team, which has been working together for a long time before Belone joined the school in July.

“The parents, students and staff are overwhelmed and just as excited as I am,” Belone said.

In New Mexico, a school has to demonstrate dramatic progress in student achievement growth or show overall academic excellence to qualify, along with earning an A letter grade in state’s A-F School Grading System.

Newcomb Elementary had an A grade for the 2013-2014 school year, rising from the C grade the school received for the 2012-2013 school year.

James Preminger, the Central Consolidated School District spokesman, said in an email statement all of the CCSD schools are doing excellent work, and it is always an honor when a school is recognized nationally.

Belone said she believes the strategies implemented by the teachers to identify the strengths of their students by studying data was important in increasing student achievement.

She also said the personal connection teachers have with students' families has been crucial to the school’s success.

“I believe a lot of it is they know the community and made that personal connection. (The teachers) work very well with one another,” Belone said.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 and jkellogg@daily-times.com. Follow him @jkelloggdt on Twitter.

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