The principals at Barnard and Leonard elementary schools in Troy both credit their schools being named Blue Ribbon Schools largely to community involvement and caring for their students’ well-being, in addition to their academic performance.

The principals at Barnard and Leonard elementary schools in Troy both credit their schools being named Blue Ribbon Schools largely to community involvement and caring for their students’ well-being, in addition to their academic performance.

Photo provided by Patrice Rowbal


Two Troy elementaries named Blue Ribbon schools

By: Brendan Losinski | Troy Times | Published October 8, 2021

 Barnard Elementary, pictured, and Leonard Elementary in Troy were recently named Blue Ribbon schools by the U.S. Department of Education.

Barnard Elementary, pictured, and Leonard Elementary in Troy were recently named Blue Ribbon schools by the U.S. Department of Education.

Photo provided by Patrice Rowbal

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TROY — U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona recognized 325 schools across the country Sept. 21 as National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2021. This included 13 schools in Michigan, two of which are in Troy.

The two Troy Schools are Barnard Elementary School and Leonard Elementary School. The Blue Ribbon status is based on a school’s overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups.

“We are very proud of our students and staff at Barnard and Leonard elementary schools. Earning this distinction highlights the exemplary work and focus on deep learning that goes on every day,” said Rich Machesky, the superintendent of the Troy School District. “We know that our schools are doing an excellent job of providing a world-class education for all students, but being honored at a national level is great recognition for a job well done.”   

“We were informed in February that Barnard was nominated for this award,” said Melanie Morey, the principal of Barnard. “It allowed us time to fill out the application and have our team come together so they could capture the processes we put into place so our application demonstrated everything we have done in the last five years.”

The principals of both schools said they were very excited about the announcement and proud of their students and staff.

“We were so proud and honored to be recognized as a school of excellence,” said Erin Detmer, the principal of Leonard. “It shows what a great collaboration we have between students, staff, parents and the whole community.”

“We are incredibly honored,” added Morey. “We are just so excited to highlight the work of the Barnard staff and the kids and all of the coordinated efforts we have put into place on behalf of making sure all of our kids have equal access to education.”

Morey credited the schools’ staff and support personnel in caring for their students’ wellbeing in addition to their academic performance for Barnard’s success.

“I think we take a deep dive into what makes our learners successful. We take our data and dive deep into their performance and look at what we can do as educators to change our practices and to better provide them with an education. … I think it’s really important to remember that we have built a culture here at Barnard that focuses not only on the academic needs of the child, but their social and emotional needs as well. It’s important to have an environment of learning that promotes learning for all.”

Detmer said she thinks that the involvement of the Troy community was a big factor in achieving Blue Ribbon status.

“I truly believe that our community is all invested in what we do inside our classrooms,” she said. “I also believe that we prioritize core values alongside academic expectations. We partner with top universities from across the country, and our teachers get the best instruction and skill development so they can match their lessons with what each student needs.”

Both principals said that COVID-19 has been a trial by fire for educators all over the world and that maintaining their standards in the face of such challenges is one of the reasons they’ve been recognized.

“I think everyone can understand that this was a difficult time for all of us,” said Morey. “Learning to adapt to new styles of teaching and ensuring engagement with children was a challenge for our whole staff. They take particular focus on connecting to all families, even in a virtual setting. We have had to look inward and look at our practices and decide if some of them need to continue or if we need to shift and adapt as the whole world has had to do.”

“The last two years have been changed by the pandemic,” added Detmer. “Our laser focus (is) on prioritizing on our key values: student social and emotional well-being and ensuring that we dug deep so the children had a deep understanding of the benchmarks of each grade level. So during the pandemic, we had to say ‘no’ to a lot to ensure the students’ social and emotional well-being was put first and they were still receiving the best academic instruction possible.”

Both remarked that the entire Troy community should be proud of this achievement.

“I think this is a community award,” said Morey. “It shows that all Troy Schools are connected. We have a wonderful system here that provides resources and structures that allow all of us to succeed. It takes families to connect with the school that promotes partnerships that benefit all children.”

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