Sixteen Nassau schools joined the upper echelon of state schools recently when they were Reward Schools by the State Education Department. The honor, which recognizes schools with a high academic achievement or those with the most progress in the state, was announced by state education commissioner MaryEllen Elia.
The Nassau schools honored include John F. Kennedy High School in Bellmore, Bethpage High School, W. Tresper Clarke High School in Westbury, Garden City High School, Great Neck South High School, Herricks High School in New Hyde Park, Jericho Senior High School, Locust Valley High School, Lynbrook High School, Manhasset High School, North Shore High School in Glen Head, Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK High School, South Side High School in Rockville Centre, Roslyn High School, Syosset High School and Wantagh High School.
The 16 Nassau schools are part of 155 statewide to claim the achievement. In order to nab Reward School recognition, schools must be in the top 20 percent of schools in the state for English Language Arts (ELA) and math performance for both the 2015-16 and 2016-17 school years; have made Adequate Yearly Progress for those two school years for all groups of students on an array of measures, including the requirement that 95 percent of all groups participate in the ELA and math assessments; and not have unacceptably large gaps in performance between students who are considered low-income students.
Albert Cousins, principal of North Shore High School in Glen Cove, said that this honor was made possible by the hard work of students, teachers and the entire school at large.
“I am very proud of our students’ excellent performance. Without question this is tied to the quality of instruction and our faculty’s thoughtful use of assessment data,” said Cousins. “We have the good fortune to have a faculty who is reflective, insightful, and focused on our students as individuals. Even further, our counseling department and social workers ensure that students are well, motivated and engaged. Every teacher in our school takes their work seriously, approaches innovation with open-mindedness, and the students know that ‘what we’re doing here is important.’ That matters, and that makes a difference. It takes an entire school community to have this sort of positive momentum and this acknowledgement is a testament to the value our families place on their school system.”
Locust Valley High School has earned Reward School status for the sixth consecutive year.
“Our high school continues to achieve excellence through the dedication of our staff and students, and through the support of the community,” said Locust Valley Superintendent of Schools Dr. Anna F. Hunderfund. “I am extremely proud that we have maintained exceptionally high standards year after year.”
“Plainview-Old Bethpage Central School District is honored to have been recognized by New York State,” said Superintendent Dr. Lorna Lewis. “This would not have been possible without the leadership from our Board of Education, dedication from our administrators and faculty and the diligence and passion from each member of our student body. This continued commitment to excellence in education, which is the hallmark of our school district, is what makes recognition of this magnitude possible.”
Jericho High School was ranked 67th nationally and 11th in New York State on Newsweek magazine’s 2017 list of the Top 500 American High Schools. (Syosset came in 173 nationally and 24th in New York State). Both high schools have placed finalists in the recently discontinued Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology. In addition, Jericho High School had 11 students (the most on Long Island) end up as scholars in this year’s Regeneron Science Talent Search; Syosset Senior High School had two. For Denise Nash, Jericho’s director of public information and community relations, academic possibilities are at the root of her district’s accomplishments.
“Jericho’s motto is success for every student and the high school is no different—offering all students many opportunities, including a large selection of electives and AP classes,” Nash said. “This allows students to find their passion and take classes that interest them, creating a great culture for learning. The Board of Education, staff, students, parents, and community all value the education that Jericho High School provides and all contribute to the educational experience.”
Neighboring Syosset High School was named a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence in 1992–1993, while the school district as a whole was the 2002 winner of the Kennedy Center Alliance for Arts Education Network and National School Boards Association Award, which honors school districts for excellence in arts education. For Dr. Thomas Rogers, the Syosset Central School District’s superintendent of schools, this statewide recognition is affirmation of the hard work put in by his staff and faculty during students’ early developmental stages.
“We are grateful for the state’s recognition of the academic success of Syosset High School,” he said. “It is the winning leg of a relay race that begins with the strong foundations built in each of Syosset’s middle and elementary schools.”
Garden City High School was ranked 157th nationally and 20th in New York State on Newsweek Magazine’s 2017 list of the Top 500 American High Schools. Its students are annually recognized for their academic achievements with myriad honors including National Merit Scholarships. In addition, Garden City High School was one of 342 schools recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School for 2017. The recognition is based on a school’s overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups.
For Garden City Principal Nanine McLaughlin, determination and a drive to succeed from the students and parents to faculty and staff are at the root of her district’s accomplishments.
Superintendent Dr. Fino Celano from Herricks High School said that this honor was made possible by the hard work of students, teachers and the entire school at large.
“I am delighted that Herricks High School has been named by the State Education Department as a High Achieving Reward School for the second year in a row,” said Celano. “This could not have been accomplished without the shared efforts on the part of our great students, supportive parents, gifted faculty and dedicated board of education. The Herricks School District is dedicated to continuous improvement and creating an exciting learning environment where all students can succeed.”
“We were very pleased to learn that Garden City High School was again designated as a ‘Reward School’ for high academic achievement by the New York State Education Department,” she said. “Our students are dedicated, hard-working individuals. Our parents are very supportive of their children and the school district, and our Board of Education and Administration work tirelessly to maintain the high school’s outstanding academic program.”
In addition, elementary and middle schools must demonstrate that more than 50 percent of students are making annual growth in ELA and math; and that more than 50 percent of the school’s lowest achieving students are also making gains. High schools must have graduation rates above 80 percent to be a high-achieving school and more than 60 percent to be a high-progress school and the percentage of students in the school who graduate with a Regents diploma with advanced designation or a Career and Technical Endorsement must exceed the state average. Additionally, high schools must demonstrate that their graduation rate for students who entered the school performing below proficient in ELA or math exceeds the state average.
“The teachers and administrators at these Reward Schools work hard each day to raise the bar and give their students opportunities to achieve their dreams,” said Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa. “The proof is in the results these schools have obtained and I am thrilled to celebrate their success.”
Of the awarded schools, 64 are located in New York City, 73 are located in the rest of the state and 18 are public charter schools. In addition, 107 of these schools were identified as Reward Schools last year and 81 have been identified as Reward Schools for three consecutive years.
“It’s truly impressive that so many of this year’s Reward Schools were able to maintain the designation for three years in a row,” said Elia. “All of these schools serve as models to others in the state to inspire them to achieve a high level of accomplishment and improvement.”