EA tops among AISA

Published 10:08 pm Sunday, January 9, 2011

Escambia Academy students in Bobbi Sasser’s class work on an assignment Tuesday morning. EA was recently recognized as a Blue Ribbon School by the AISA.|Photo by Chandler Myers

The efforts by the teachers and students in the classrooms and the administrators behind the scenes at Escambia Academy have not gone unnoticed.

The Alabama Independent School Association (AISA) earlier this week announced that the Canoe-based private school had attained Blue Ribbon School designation for the 2010-11 school year. The news of the school’s recognition was music to headmaster Betty Warren’s ears as she and her staff and students settled back in this week from the holidays.

“It is an honor to be recognized as a Blue Ribbon School as the award exemplifies a high level of excellence in student-teacher performance, plant and facilities, student life and community involvement,” she said. “The faculty, staff, students and parents at EA have worked hard to obtain this award and they are to be commended. What an honor!”

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AISA Blue Ribbon Schools exemplify excellence in teaching, student performance, school life and school and community interaction, according to a press release. A Blue Ribbon School Award winner is an excellent school involved in an on-going process of school improvement.

“The AISA Blue Ribbon School program is sponsored by the AISA to recognize member schools with outstanding educational programs,” AISA officials said. “Escambia Academy has attained a high level of excellence in the areas of student and teacher performance, plant and facilities, student life, and community involvement and is a very worthy recipient of the AISA Blue Ribbon School award.”

According to officials with the AISA, to attain Blue Ribbon School designation, the following criteria must be met and/or exceeded:

The Alabama Independent School Association must accredit the school;

All professional staff members must meet or exceed the AISA professional criteria;

SAT performance must meet and/or exceed the AISA Complete Battery average (60%) in grades second, fourth, sixth and eighth; and/or AISA Complete Battery overall average are higher than the school’s national ability overall average score;

Extracurricular opportunities must be offered in all of the following areas, academics, athletics, arts, clubs and organizations, community service and participation in Spring Convention 2010 & Fall Workshop 2010 and membership in the AISA STATE SGA 2010-11;

The school’s buildings and grounds must be in “excellent” physical appearance.

School must have applied for President’s Award and nominated top student(s) for All-State AISA Academic Awards in May 2010;

There can be no existing priorities from the accreditation visit;

No major accreditation or athletic sanctions could have been placed on the school within the past 12 months;

A School Improvement Plan is required;

A school-wide Technology Plan must be developed and implemented. The Technology Plan must include a mission statement, grade level objectives, school technology inventory, Internet Use Policy, professional development activities, long range plans and evaluation of implementation;

Other minimum criteria for each school include Internet access to faculty and students; all students with Alabama Virtual Library cards; a designated (not shared) school Web site, media center with Internet access; a computer curriculum for all grades (K5-12), this may be included in the Technology Plan and an adequate number of computers for school student population.

In applying for the opportunity to earn Blue Ribbon School designation, administration and staff at Escambia Academy had to complete a lengthy application process that included numerous required listings of above listed criteria and a narrated video.

The AISA has been steadfast in its efforts since 1970 to maintain an organization of independently operated non-public schools that are rich in diversity, committed to academic excellence, and deeply concerned about the growth and development of children and youth. The association’s goal is to provide quality educational opportunities for those parents choosing an alternative to public education.