On Sept. 24 the U.S. Department of Education named the 286 schools in the nation, which earned their designation of a Blue Ribbon School. Six schools were selected in Alabama, of which only one was in Mobile County — Council Traditional School, an elementary school near downtown.

According to the U.S. DOE, being named a Blue Ribbon School is the highest honor in the nation for public and private schools and only given to schools where students perform at very high levels. Schools must be nominated by their states to receive a Blue Ribbon.

“We are very proud to have another Mobile County public school recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School, which signifies their commitment to excellence in education,” said Mobile County schools Superintendent Martha Peek in a press release.

Council Principal Hattie Alexander said the school offers its students educational opportunities beyond the norm.

“We have an exciting educational experience for children where they get to participate in Spanish almost every other day,” Alexander said in a press release.
“We have a comprehensive science lab, art. And our students have a solid, traditional education experience in math, reading and the core subjects.”

Council is one of a handful of Alabama elementary schools that is a certified pre-International Baccalaureate School. The school has a strings orchestra program and 100 percent participation in its PTA.

Dr. Lynda Carroll, the assistant Mobile County schools superintendent who oversees Council, said she’s proud of Alexander and Council for winning this award.

“There’s a wonderful professional learning community at Council,” Carroll said in a press release. “The staff is exemplary. The principals’ leadership is something to be modeled throughout the district.”

Council has been an elementary school for 103 years, but was changed to a magnet school 25 years ago.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said schools like Council are the educational centers that get students ready for the future.

“Excellence in education matters and we should honor the schools that are leading the way to prepare students for success in college and careers,” he said in a press release. “National Blue Ribbon schools represent examples of educational excellence, and their work reflects the belief that every child in America deserves a world-class education.”

Council marks the 11th MCPSS school to be awarded the honor of being a Blue Ribbon school. Past Mobile County winners are Anna Booth, Calcedeaver, Dodge, George Hall, Mary B. Austin and Spencer elementary schools; Clark-Shaw Magnet and Phillips Preparatory middle schools; and Davidson and Murphy high schools.

The Blue Ribbon program recognizes schools in one of two performance categories. The first category is “Exemplary High Performing,” in which schools are recognized among their state’s highest performing schools, as measured by state assessments or nationally-normed tests.

The second category is “Exemplary Improving,” in which schools that have at least 40 percent of their students from disadvantaged backgrounds demonstrate the most progress in improving student achievement levels as measured by state assessments or nationally-normed tests.

Council was selected as one of the “Exemplary High Performing” schools.