Charlotte middle school named one of 353 best in US, 8 in North Carolina

A Charlotte middle school is among the best in the United States along with seven others in North Carolina named National Blue Ribbon Schools.

Jay M Robinson Middle School earned the honor in Charlotte, the second time it’s earned the honor since 2016. Principal Rebecca Thompson told The Charlotte Observer the school reflects and honors a diverse group of students “who uplift the entire community.”

“Our staff and families work together and push students to exceed their expectations of themselves during such a sensitive time in their development,” said Thompson, who was named the school’s principal Aug. 15 after serving as the assistant principal for six years. “Our community celebrates this achievement but also looks forward to future success for many years to come.“

The school’s current enrollment is 1,347 for grades 6-8 in South Charlotte. It serves a diverse population of students, including 30% Asian, 11% Hispanic, 9% African American, 3% two or more races and 47% white, according to its application to the U.S. Department of Education.

Michael Miliote, who served as the principal at Jay M. Robinson from August 2014 until this summer, says everyone holds each other to high standard and nurture a peer culture of high accountability.

“The staff has developed a mindset that rising tides rise all ships,” said Miliote, now principal of a yet-to-be-named South Charlotte relief high school. “They embody the idea that kids can! This mindset is truly what makes JMR one of a kind, their unwavering beliefs in each other and in what kids can do.”

The Department of Education recognized 353 schools for 2023, it announced Tuesday. The recognition is based on a school’s overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups on assessments, the release said.

Last year, five schools in North Carolina garnered the coveted honor.

What other schools in NC were recognized this year?

W. R. Odell Elementary School, Concord, Cabarrus County Schools.

Fairview Elementary School, Fairview, Buncombe County Schools.

Highland School of Technology, Gastonia, Gaston County Schools.

Greensboro Academy, Greensboro.

Lucama Elementary School, Wilson County Schools.

Beaufort County Early College High School, Washington, Beaufort County Schools.

Heyward C Bellamy Elementary School, Wilmington, New Hanover County Schools.

The honorees have set a national example for what it means to raise the bar in education, said Education Secretary Miguel Cardona.

“The leaders, educators, and staff at our National Blue Ribbon Schools continually inspire me with their dedication to fostering academic excellence and building positive school cultures that support students of all backgrounds to thrive academically, socially, and emotionally,” Cardona said.

What is the Blue Ribbon award?

Since its inception in 1982, the National Blue Ribbon Schools program has bestowed some 10,000 awards to more than 9,700 schools. As many as 420 schools may be nominated each year.

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

Exemplary high-performing schools are among their state’s highest performing schools as measured by state assessments or nationally standardized 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.

Nominated schools also complete an application describing their culture and philosophy, curriculum, assessments, instructional practices, professional development, leadership structures and parent and community involvement.