by Amelia Wigton
On Aug. 20, the first day of school for the 2020-21 school year, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) announced that Ozark West Elementary School was one of seven Missouri Gold Star Schools for 2020.
Craig Carson, Ozark School District Assistant Superintendent of Learning, said this is a great honor and speaks volumes to the quality of education Ozark offers district wide.
“We are grateful for the Gold Star recognition for West Elementary,” he said. “The staff has worked extremely hard toward equity to make sure each child succeeds academically, socially and emotionally.”
Students in kindergarten through fifth grade attend West Elementary, which is under the direction of Gina McBain as principal and Rachel Tabuya as assistant principal.
McBain said West Elementary exemplifies the District’s mission statement “to provide high quality education for each student’s future readiness,” and the vision statement of “an innovative school district preparing students to use their talents for success.”
“West teachers understand and teach the life skills needed to build successful adults. We strive to educate both the mind and the soul,” McBain said. “West teachers are tenacious and resilient. When the going gets tough, West teachers keep going. We are West — student focused and committed to our mission to connect, learn, and grow.”
West Elementary is the only school in southwest Missouri to receive this honor in 2020. However, it isn’t the only Gold Star School in Ozark; East Elementary received the honor in 2014.
“I am honored to recognize these outstanding schools for their commitment to providing a high-quality education to their students each and every day,” DESE Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven said in a press release. “To be acknowledged as Missouri’s representatives in this nationwide program is a testament to their efforts in preparing students of all ages for success.”
The program recognizes schools for outstanding academic achievement or for performing at high levels while serving a significant portion of disadvantaged students. Established in 1991, criteria mirrors that for the U.S. Department of Education’s National Blue Ribbon Schools program. Winners for the national award will be announced later this fall.