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U.S. Secretary of Education, John B. King, Jr., recently announced that Newton County Theme School (NCTS) has been named a 2016 National Blue Ribbon School. NCTS is one among 279 public and 50 private schools in the nation, and one of only seven in Georgia, to receive this prestigious honor.

“To be named a National Blue Ribbon School is indeed an honor, and I feel privileged to be a part of a school such as this,” said Dr. Naomi Cobb, principal of NCTS.  “Although this award was based on last year’s performance, it is actually a culmination of several years of dedication and hard work. Newton County Theme School has developed from two separate campuses (elementary and middle) into one, fully functioning kindergarten through eighth grade campus over the course of the last seven years. Parents, teachers, administrators, and county office personnel have forged through new territory and have come together to make decisions and develop procedures that are very different from the traditional elementary or middle school setting. This award is a validation of that dedication and hard work. It just shows what can be accomplished when schools and families truly work together.” 

“National Blue Ribbon Schools are proof that we can prepare every child for college and meaningful careers,” King said in a video message to honorees, “All of you–students, teachers and administrators–deserve our highest praise. You are shining examples for your communities, your state, and the nation.”

National Blue Ribbon Schools are on education’s cutting edge, pioneering innovative educational practices from professional learning communities and project-based learning to social and emotional learning and positive behavior systems. Schools are nominated by the state department of education and then complete a comprehensive application about school practices. Schools may be nominated as Exemplary High Performing—among the top schools in a state—or Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing—schools making the fastest progress in their state in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups. NCTS earned Blue Ribbon status in the “Exemplary High-Performing Schools” category. 

“Schools in the Exemplary High Performance category are among Georgia’s highest performing schools as measured by state or nationally-normed assessments; student subgroup performance is also at the highest levels in Georgia,” said Samantha Fuhrey, Superintendent of Newton County School System. “The Theme School team has worked diligently to ensure students receive a quality education that will prepare them for their futures and earning the National Blue Ribbon Status confirms the good work taking place. I am very proud of the NCTS team---students, parents, faculty, staff and school leaders---recognition at this level is absolutely outstanding!”

The U.S. Department of Education will honor this year’s National Blue Ribbon Schools, including Newton County Theme School, at a special recognition ceremony Nov. 7-8, 2016 in Washington, D.C.