Three of those schools being recognized this year are in the Chicago Public Schools system.
Chicago Public Schools officials appeared at Evergreen Academy Middle School Thursday to celebrate Evergreen and two other schools being named "schools to watch" by the Association of Illinois Middle-Level Schools and the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform.
You could feel the excitement in the air Thursday at Evergreen Academy Middle School for being nationally recognized as a school to watch. Currently, only 16 schools in Illinois have this designation. Two other Chicago Public Schools selected are Libby and Little Village.
"What we're here to celebrate is distinction across all three areas where you combine great leadership with great dedicated teachers and great engaged students, wonderful things can happen," said Ron Huberman, Chicago Public Schools CEO.
To be named a school to watch several criteria must be met over a four-year period, including:
- academic excellence
- support adolescent learning
- fair treatment of students
- provide high quality teachers
- support a path toward excellence
- have great attendance
"It's an unbelievable honor. It's the first time in five years that Chicago Public Schools even won the designation, and since it's also a national award, it makes it more special," said Marian Strok, Evergreen principal.
The students and staff are not surprised that they were recognized with this national award for excellence.
"This school is like a family. I mean, the teachers make sure we get our work done," said Dennise Sotelo, Evergreen student.
"The award means a lot to everybody, because that's saying that our school is one of the best schools here," said Angela Rosales, Evergreen student.
The three recognized schools worked closely with universities to strengthen instruction in math and science.
"We had coaches that came in to demonstrate to the teachers and to observe what is needed to improve in order to implement this practice," said Elsa Carmona, Little Village Academy principal.
"The staff and the kids that have been judged by test scores for years, finally get recognition," said Kurt Jones, Libby elementary and middle school principal.
Evergreen, Libby and Little Village schools will receive recognition at a special school ceremony and at the National Forum Schools to Watch Conference in Washington DC in June.