Mesa Verde Elementary celebrates National Blue Ribbon School achievement

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — Teachers, students and staff celebrated Mesa Verde Elementary School's selection as a National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education on Sept. 22.

The Department of Education recognizes schools nationwide that have overall academic excellence or have progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups.

The department recognized Mesa Verde as an exemplary high performing school.

"It's a big deal," Principal Pam Schritter said in an interview on Sept. 21, the same day the Department of Education named 325 schools across the nation as this year's honorees.

Mesa Verde Elementary School Principal Pam Schritter, left, recognizes teachers during the school celebration for the 2021 National Blue Ribbon School award.

Schritter explained that teachers take a collaborative approach in strengthening academics at Mesa Verde.

"We're working on the highest level of achievement for our students, so this is validating to our staff. Because my staff is very dedicated to the students," she said.

Mesa Verde is among three schools in New Mexico that received the award. Coronado Elementary School in Hobbs and Mesquite Elementary School in Mesquite were also recipients.

Fifth grade students at Mesa Verde Elementary School in Farmington listen to the announcement that their school is a 2021 National Blue Ribbon School.

Because of COVID-19 restrictions on indoor gatherings, students learned about the award in a video presentation by U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona that streamed in their classrooms.

"This year's cohort of honorees demonstrates what's possible when committed educators, school leaders and staff create vibrant and affirming schools where rich teaching and learning can flourish," Cardona said in the video.

Fifth grade teacher Amy Johnson applauded the selection along with her students.

"It's a good feeling to feel because these kids work hard," Johnson said.

After the watching the video, students, teachers and staff assembled at the school playground to listen to remarks by school and district officials.

Mesa Verde Elementary School Principal Pam Schritter wears a blue ribbon on Sept. 22 during the celebration for its 2021 National Blue Ribbon Schools recognition.

"Today, all across the country, schools like yours are being honored for being very special in the academics and the good work that you are doing in the classroom. So, I want to thank you for being such wonderful, hardworking students," Farmington Municipal Schools Superintendent Gene Schmidt said.

The Department of Education will formally recognize the 325 schools at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. in November.

Farmington Municipal School District Superintendent Gene Schmidt talks about Mesa Verde Elementary School's achievement as a 2021 National Blue Ribbon School on Sept. 22 in Farmington.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at

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