REaCH is National Blue Ribbon School

Sep. 25, 2013 @ 04:53 AM

Rutherford Early College High School (REaCH) has received one of the country's most prestigious education honors.

Administrators and school personnel were informed Tuesday that REaCH has been identified as a National Blue Ribbon School by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

"I'm still trying to put into words how excited I am about this," said REaCH Principal Jeremiah McCluney. "This is a very big accomplishment for the school."

According to a press release, Duncan recognized 286 schools across the country as the 2013 cohort of National Blue Ribbon Schools based on their "overall academic excellence or their progress in improving student academic achievement."

“Excellence in education matters and we should honor the schools that are leading the way to prepare students for success in college and careers,” Duncan said in a statement. “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.”

To be selected as a National Blue Ribbon school, the U.S. Department of Education requested nominations from the top education official in every state. Schools nominated were invited to submit an application for possible recognition.

"We were nominated last year and it was a lengthy process to put together an application. We worked on it for almost a year," said Lori Lambert, English teacher at REaCH. "We are just happy for the students. We know how hard they work everyday and this shows that. It's an honor."

REaCH is one of only six North Carolina public or private schools to be recognized for this honor. The program recognizes schools in one of two categories. REaCH was deemed as a "Exemplary High Performing" which means it is among North Carolina's highest performing schools as measured by nationally-normed tests or state assessments.

“I am delighted that REaCH has been recognized for this prestigious honor. As we developed our planning and implementation grants in partnership with the NC New Schools Project a decade ago, our school district's leadership team held high expectations for what REaCH would ultimately become. We firmly believed that the school would raise the bar for all students, inspire innovation in our traditional schools, and model excellence in teaching and learning," Rutherford County Schools Superintendent Dr. Janet Mason said in a statement. "Since the school opened in 2005, its leaders, students, teachers, and parents, past and present, have maintained and implemented that vision through hard work, collaboration, and high expectations for all students. Seeing REaCH recognized as a 2013 National Blue Ribbon School affirms that our local vision is now a national reality.”

The U.S. Department of Education will honor the 2013 National Blue Ribbon Schools at a special recognition ceremony on Nov. 18-19, 2013, in Washington, D.C.

“I am tremendously proud of this recognition for REaCH. To be named among the top 300 schools in the nation is a wonderful testament to the innovative vision of Rutherford County Schools’ administrators and the dedicated work of REaCH faculty and students," Dr. John Mark Bennett, chairman of the Rutherford County Board of Education said in a statement. "This school, which was envisioned to become a model for Rutherford County, has now become a model for the entire country.”

A complete list of the 2013 National Blue Ribbon Schools is available online through the U.S. Department of Education at