Teaneck names an elementary school for civil rights activist and Teaneck resident Theodora Smiley Lacey.

Two Bergen County schools are among nine in New Jersey recognized as National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2020.

The awards, based on a school’s overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups, went to Lillian M. Steen School in Bogota and Henry B. Milnes Elementary School in Fair Lawn. 

U.S Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced the winners on Thursday. 

Milnes Elementary School Principal Stephanie Primavera said, “I am so proud of the positive school culture that we have here at Milnes School. All staff members are committed to helping our students learn, grow, and achieve academically, socially, and emotionally.” She gathered with teachers in the Milnes’ media center to watch the announcement on Thursday. 

Watching the announcement at Fair Lawn’s Henry B. Milnes Elementary School on Thursday. (Photo: Fair Lawn Public Schools)

“All of the credit is really due to the hard work of our teachers, students and supportive parents,” she said. Milnes School has about 500 students in Grades K-5. 

In Bogota, Principal Dayle Collins said the Blue Ribbon designation “is a huge honor for us. It’s a recognition of the hard work, dedication and passion that the teachers, students, families and community put into the schools.”

The fifth-year principal said her school is still all-remote, but when the students return and it’s safe to do so, “we’ll all do something” to celebrate. The school has 320 students in Grades Pre-K-6.

The National Blue Ribbon Schools award affirms the work of educators, families, and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging and engaging content. Now in its 38th year, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has bestowed almost 10,000 awards to more than 9,000 schools, with some schools winning multiple awards. Schools are eligible for nomination after five years. 

Education: In NJ and NY suburbs, private schools see enrollment rise as families seek in-person learning

Local: Teaneck school renamed for civil rights activist, ‘living legend’ Theodora Smiley Lacey

The Department recognizes all schools in one of two performance categories, based on all student scores, student subgroup scores, and graduation rates:

  • Exemplary High Performing Schools – These are among their state’s highest performing schools as measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests.
  • Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing Schools are among their state’s highest performing schools in closing achievement gaps between a school’s student groups and all students.

In all, 367 schools were honored from around the country. Other Garden State schools recognized were Gould/Mountain School in North Caldwell; HCST County Prep High School in Jersey City; Old Turnpike School, Tewksbury Township; Island Heights Grade School in Island Heights; Riverview Elementary School in  Denville; Clark Mills School, Manalapan-Englishtown Regional School District and School 5, Linden.

Up to 420 schools may be nominated each year from all states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the Department of Defense Education Activity and the Bureau of Indian Education. Private schools are nominated by The Council for American Private Education.

The 2020 National Blue Ribbon Schools Awards Ceremony will be held virtually Nov. 12 and 13. 

Read or Share this story: