Hillside Academy recognized for first-ever National Blue Ribbon School title

Honored for its dedication and devotion to students, Hillside Academy for Excellence was named a 2016 National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education—a first for the Eagles. 

As one of just 26 Texas campuses nominated, Hillside earned its distinction after completing a rigorous application process.

Although Principal Sonya Palmer and 2015-16 Teacher of the Year Tamecia Drain were honored in Washington, D.C. in November, they got to celebrate with colleagues during a special ceremony Jan. 19.

Staff, Trustees and administrators gathered in the library to revel in success. Board President Linda Griffin opened the affair with words of praise, followed by Interim Superintendent Deborah Cron.

"The reason this is a Blue Ribbon School, which means that you are exemplary, is because of the staff,” Cron said. “You care about every one of your kids. Every one of them has a commitment to achieve beyond what is expected—and they do. Once you expect it, they achieve it. Thank you for providing that vision to every child.”

Area Director Kristin Wolfkill echoed those expressions of pride and gratitude. Palmer then ended the program by thanking staff and administration for their hard work and support.

Staff members also received congratulatory tote bags and were asked to enjoy refreshments and relish in camaraderie.

Founded in 1982, the Blue Ribbon program recognizes schools based on overall academic excellence or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups. Hillside is the eighth GISD campus named a National Blue Ribbon School. The district has received a total of 13 distinctions over the past 34 years.