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Rexburg school honored as National Blue Ribbon School


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Eric Grossarth,

REXBURG — A local elementary school has been named one of 349 National Blue Ribbon Schools by the U.S. Department of Education.

Lincoln Elementary School in Rexburg, was honored as Exemplary High Performing Schools this week. That means they are among Idaho’s highest performing schools as measured by state assessments or nationally standardized tests.

In the nomination summery it was noted Lincoln Elementary resides in Madison County with the highest poverty rate in the Idaho, with 21 percent of the nearly 8,000 families in the area below the poverty line. This is exemplified at Lincoln Elementary where 36 percent of the student population is eligible for free or reduced lunch support.

Scott Shirley principal at Lincoln Elementary says the key to their school doing well is its focus on students. He keeps a quote from Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” on his office wall as a reminder to not treat the school like a business, but a focus on the kids and teachers walking inside.

“Mankind was my business,” Dickens said. “The common welfare was my business; charity mercy, forbearance, benevolence, were all my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business.”

Lincoln Elementary was invited to attend an awards ceremony in Washington D.C. however, staff along with the parent committee decided to receive the award over Skype. Shirley said they want to use the money it would cost to send staff to Washington back at the school to help the kids.

“It means more to us to be with the kids,” Shirley said.

Something unique Lincoln Elementary does is a number of teachers take part of their summer vacation to visit the homes of each child assigned to their classroom in the upcoming year. Kindergarten teachers also secured a grant to provide small backpacks for each new student with basic materials provided to get the children excited for school.

Shirley told teachers are not required to do this but take the extra time to get to know their students and help them feel welcomed. Pictures of the students are also taken at their homes where they are then placed on the classroom doors for the first day of school.

Lincoln Elementary’s mission statement is to “assists families in helping children grow intellectually, socially, emotionally, and physically.”

Shirley says it takes a lot of family involvement to make their school so great. Often times he described when a school function is taking place the parking becomes overloaded with parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. He says he can attribute the kids doing so well in school to the involvement from home.