The students and staff of Endeavor Elementary School are already excited for receiving a national Blue Ribbon Award nomination. They were happy to show off their school spirit during an assembly Friday. (Photo submitted)

Local school nominated for national honors

ENDEAVOR — Endeavor Elementary School may be one of the area’s best-kept secrets, but that won’t be for long.

State Superintendent Tony Evers nominated Endeavor Elementary School and seven other public schools for the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program, which recognizes overall academic excellence or progress in improving student achievement. Endeavor Elementary is being nominated as an “Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing School.”
Endeavor Elementary School Lead Teacher Jody Steinhaus said it’s a great feeling to be recognized for the achievements made by their students.

“It is an honor to be recognized with this nomination and for the great things that are happening here at our school, along with the accomplishments of our staff and students,” Steinhaus said. “We have a shared vision and set goals for ourselves, our students, and our school.”
Endeavor Elementary School, with 97 students, has the second highest rate of economically disadvantaged students as determined by federal guidelines and the highest rate of students whose primary language is not English among the schools in the Portage Community School District. Those two points may be viewed as obstacles for some, but Endeavor’s staff members have worked closely with families to establish high expectations of everyone involved.

Steinhaus said the nomination, which recognizes gains over the past five years of state standardized reading and math results, reflects many factors that have gone into the improvements.

“This nomination is a cumulative effort.  The district’s curriculum, the procedures and best practices implemented, the professional development opportunities we have access to, teachers who pilot curriculum, the administrators, the dedicated office and teaching assistants, and our talented Endeavor teachers and staff, are obviously all integral,” Steinhaus said. She also recognized supportive families, PTO, and the active community members who all have an important role in the school’s growth and success.

Genny Petrulis, a 4th grade teacher at Endeavor, said the entire community is invested in the success of the students.   The school welcomes the partnerships with the Sharing Supper, Royal Bank staff who provide financial savings education, the Marquette County nutritionist, the Endeavor-Moundville Fire Department, and dental health staff.

 “We have a very tight-knit community,” Petrulis said. “The Lions Club, the public library, community partnerships, they really care about us and we care about them.”

Endeavor Principal Salina Thistle said the nomination is a great example of a school that is successful because of the passion of the teachers and support from the community.

“I have only been the principal in Endeavor for five months, but every time I meet with the staff or interact with the parents and community of Endeavor I am impressed,” Thistle said. “The teachers at Endeavor Elementary genuinely care about how their students are feeling in equal amounts to their academic success.”

Thistle said the staff members create a positive environment in the building, making it a special place to learn. “On many occasions I have made the comment to staff members that they teach all day with smiles on their faces,” Thistle said. “The teachers love what they do and it shows in the students' achievements.”

Jolene Routson, a 2nd and 3rd grade teacher, said the energy of the staff makes a difference in what they have been able to accomplish.  “Trust and respect among staff members is key to successful collaboration and a unified ‘team’ approach.”

“We always want to be cutting-edge,” Routson said.
While the nomination is an honor and the data obtained from standardized testing does guide teaching plans, the main goal remains on the success of the students as members of society.

“We do look at the data, it guides our instruction. It is intentional,” Steinhaus said. “Our focus though is on the whole child; their social, emotional, and educational well-being.  The nomination reinforces that our collaborative efforts are producing positive results for our students, families, and community.”

Steinhaus said whatever the outcome is from the nomination, Endeavor staff members are proud of the family environment and the partnerships they have fostered.

“We all believe we are better together,” Steinhaus said.
The nominees are:
• Endeavor Elementary School, Portage Community School District;
• Howard Elementary School, Green Bay, Howard-Suamico School District;
• Lake Shore Middle School, Mequon-Thiensville School District;
• Magee Elementary School, Two Rivers Public School District;
• Onalaska High School, Onalaska School District;
• Platteville Middle School, Platteville School District;
• Sevastopol High School, Sturgeon Bay, Sevastopol School District; and
• Washburn High School, Washburn School District.

The Blue Ribbon Schools Program has recognized more than 7,500 of America’s schools since it began in 1982. Selection criteria for this year’s program require that schools have at least 100 students and be open for at least five years. Additionally, schools must have met annual measurable objectives for the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years.

Schools nominated to the program must complete the Blue Ribbon Schools application and undergo the national review process. Awards, presented to “Exemplary High Performing” and “Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing” schools, are typically announced in early September.