Broadmoor students, teachers and staff were feeling blue Monday, and that was a good thing.
The Hobbs elementary school was recognized as the only New Mexico public school to receive a National Blue Ribbon School honor for its work in making “notable improvements in closing the achievement gap,” according to U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.
That work took place during the 2016-17 school year when current Broadmoor principal Galinda Everhart was a fifth-grade teacher at the school.
“Closing the achievement gap” means the school was able to “grow” the learning of the students from its three sub-groups: lower-performing students, on-grade level students and higher-performing students.
“It means that all of our hard work, our efforts and in-house professional development through collaboration, our hours of analyzing data and the great leadership we had at that time, all just propelled us to achieve this accomplishment,” Everhart said. “I cannot pinpoint one factor that helped us achieve this.”
Everhart’s mention of leadership was a nod to Lisa Robinson, who was Broadmoor’s principal during the 2016-17 school year.
“Lisa’s leadership not only provided everything that we needed, but she also supported our ideas, endeavors and hours of collaboration. Whatever we needed, Lisa supported it,” Everhart said.
Robinson is currently serving as Taylor Middle School principal in Lovington.
“I am so excited for Broadmoor,” Robinson said. “I’m very proud of the accomplishment. We worked very hard from kindergarten to fifth grade for the betterment of the kids. All that work is paying off for the kids. We worked together as a staff for so long and got better as we continued to work. We became an A-status school and still felt we could achieve more.”
Everhart said the staff’s expectations for its students are high.
“For the most part, every teacher here has high standards for their students in the classroom,” she said. “That’s one of the major factors.”
Other factors include the opportunities the school district gives its respective school staffs, such as common planning time and Professional Learning Communities (PLC) that take place on Wednesdays after an early release of students from school.
“The PLC allows the staff from each individual school to collaborate,” Everhart said. “Not just teachers, but coaches, nurses and counselors. We can all meet and discuss the needs of our students and plan as effectively as we need to.”
Everhart said in the past, given the data analyzed, the school’s staff would focus on the needs of the lower-performing students. Then another year, it would focus on the higher-performing students.
“That year was the sweet year,” Everhart said of 2016-17. “We grew everyone and that is what earned us the nomination for the blue ribbon.”
The school district learned last year Broadmoor had been nominated, which led school staff members to fill out the needed paperwork to put the school in a position to earn the award.
“We had to turn in a plethora of information,” Everhart said. “So we were super-excited and thrilled to get this award because all of our hard work, countless hours of looking at data, setting interventions in place, it all paid off.”
School district administrators were told there were two other New Mexico schools nominated, but Monday it became known that Broadmoor is the state’s only public school to receive the award. The other two are charter schools, East Mountain High School in Albuquerque and Anansi in Taos.
Also in the announcement, school representatives were invited to a recognition ceremony scheduled for Nov. 7-8 in Washington, D.C.
“Broadmoor is being recognized because their students are engaged, parents are involved and staff is exceptional,” HMS superintendent TJ Parks said.
Another factor leading to the award is the experience level of the school’s staff. There are nine teachers who have spent their entire career at Broadmoor Elementary School. While Everhart has been at Broadmoor for 18 years, fourth-grade teacher Kelly Inman is in her 19th year and there is another teacher who started six months prior to Inman.
“We have 18 classroom teachers and half of them have been at this school their entire careers,” Inman said. “For me, this award is humbling and overwhelming. It is an acknowledgement of all the countless hours of hard work, sacrifice and extra planning time on the weekends that we have done.”
Some of those teachers who have left are in administration now at other schools. Pam Randall heads Jefferson Elementary, Tracy Davis is the Eunice High School principal and Jennifer Guy is an assistant superintendent within the Los Alamos Public Schools.
“Broadmoor has a history of raising and building capacity in leaders,” Everhart said. “We have a legacy of good leaders, John Cearley, Karen Loving and Lisa Robinson. For the past 20 years, we have only had three principals.”
Inman said the school’s leadership has always challenged its teachers to work beyond where they are professionally.
“They have challenged us to take classes, develop ourselves professionally, but also take care of ourselves personally,” Inman said. “They have encouraged us to stretch ourselves in our classrooms and how to pull confidence out of our kids. It’s not just about teaching the kids, but building relationships. That’s the most important thing.”
Broadmoor Elementary School is one of 342 schools to be named a 2017 National Blue Ribbon School. Of those, 292 are public schools and 50 are non-public schools.