MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- The Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, recognized 336 schools out of 138,000 schools in the United States as National Blue Ribbon School for 2014. The Department of Defense Education Activity nominates only three schools for the Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence award annually, one from DoD Dependent School’s Europe one from DoDEA Pacific and one from Domestic Dependent Elementary and Secondary Schools.
Matthew C. Perry Elementary School celebrated receiving Blue Ribbon status aboard Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, April 21, 2015, by beginning the day with a small parade followed by the raising of their Blue Ribbon School of Excellence flag. After the flag raising, students and staff performed for visitors inside the school’s gymnasium.
“It’s a distinctive honor to be recognized as a blue ribbon school because less than one percentage of schools are recognized each year,” said Suzanne Landrum, principal of M. C. Perry Elementary.
M. C. Perry leadership developed a culture of collaboration that helps the entire community bring the vision of the school to life. The administration encourages teachers, support staff and students to assume leadership roles that support the school’s vision.
“The recognition comes from a combination of exemplary teaching, motivated students and a supportive community,” said Landrum. “We also had the support of the superintendent and everyone up to the headquarters level of DoDEA Pacific. Their mission is to certify DoD schools are equipped with the tools to ensure academic growth and student achievement.”
It’s difficult for DoD schools to earn the award because the students are constantly moving, they don’t have the stability of being able to go to the same elementary, middle or high school every year, said Col. Robert Boucher, commanding officer of MCAS Iwakuni.
“The students are not in one place long enough to get comfortable with their surroundings, from school to school they experience different environments and a new teaching staff,” said Landrum. “However, military parents and DoD teachers are extremely supportive of the students’ academic success because they understand the struggle that the kids go through.”
According to Boucher, the teachers probably have the biggest influence out of everyone because they’re the ones at school working with the kids every day.
“It’s a wonderful recognition for not only the school but the community and the base as well,” said Boucher. “We’re very proud because it’s a very prestigious award, not many people can say they’ve worked for or attended a Blue Ribbon school.”