Park Ridge-Niles School District 64’s Emerson Middle School has been honored for a fourth time as a "Horizon School to Watch" by the Association of Illinois Middle-Grade Schools and the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform.
“Only 15 Schools to Watch across the United States have been designated for a fourth time,” according to Emerson Principal Jim Morrison. The award is given on a three-year cycle; Emerson previously garnered the award in 2009, 2012 and 2015.
“We are delighted that Emerson has been able to sustain this elite level of performance for the past nine years and that its ‘growth mindset’ will carry forward these exemplary practices for another three,” according to District 64 Superintendent Laurie Heinz.
“It is a truly impressive record and places Emerson in the forefront of how middle schools can be perfectly aligned to meet the unique needs of adolescent learners within a nurturing, challenging environment,” she noted.
“We congratulate the entire Emerson community -- our administrators, staff members, students and their families -- for serving as an inspiring example as the ‘best of the best’ in middle schools across the nation,” she added.
The Board of Education will acknowledge and congratulate Emerson for its outstanding achievement when the Board meets there on May 21. Emerson is District 64’s largest school educating about 850 students in grades 6-8 with a staff of about 100.
As a School to Watch, Emerson has been found to demonstrate academic excellence, developmental responsiveness, social equity, and organizational structures and processes aimed towards excellence, Dr. Morrison pointed out.
Emerson hosted a team of evaluators on January 25, 2018 comprised of administrators from all over Illinois. “This team observed and critiqued our practices to determine if we should continue to be a Horizon School to Watch,” Dr. Morrison recounted. “They met with students, parents, staff, and administration, as well as visited classrooms during their visit,” he noted.
When a school is awarded the Horizon School to Watch award, it is provided with “stretch” goals to achieve within the upcoming three years before it can reapply for recognition, Dr. Morrison clarified.
“The purpose is to demonstrate that the school has continued to grow and progress from the previous designation,” he noted. “Feedback on our strengths and suggested areas of growth from this visit will become a focus for us over the next three years -- we are fully committed to remaining leaders in middle level education,” Dr. Morrison confirmed.