ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Platte-Geddes Elementary named a National Distinguished School for 2021

Award recognizes school for student performance, academic growth

102221.N.DR.PLATTEGEDDESAWARD1.jpg
Nicki Nelson teaches the 5th grade class at Platte-Geddes Elementary School. Platte-Geddes Elementary School was recently named a recipient of the 2021 National ESEA Distinguished Schools. The national award recognized the school for closing the achievement gap between student groups for two or more consecutive years. (Submitted Photo)

PLATTE — For the second time in two years, the Platte-Geddes School District is receiving national recognition for its academic programs.

Platte-Geddes Elementary School was recently recognized as a 2021 National ESEA Distinguished School . The school was recognized specifically for exceptional student performance and academic growth over the course of two or more years.

The school is one of two schools in South Dakota to receive the award this year, with the other being Explorer Elementary in Harrisburg.

Jennifer Knecht, principal of Platte-Geddes Elementary School, said receiving the call from state education officials that the school had received the award was a surprise, but she knew it was recognition the students, staff and parents in the district deserved.

“The call from the state was a surprise, but I did tell them that we are a distinguished school district and we deserved it,” Knecht said. “Our kids performed well both in-school and on state assessments, and teachers set high expectations for our kids and asked them to meet those standards.”

ADVERTISEMENT

The National Association of ESEA State Program Administrators (NAESPA) — formerly the National Title I Association — has been selecting examples of superior, federally funded school programs for national recognition through the National ESEA Distinguished Schools program, which was recently renamed from its predecessor, the National Title I Distinguished Schools program, since 1996.

Selected schools demonstrate a wide array of strengths, including team approaches to teaching and learning, focused professional development opportunities for staff, individualized programs for student success, and strong partnerships between the school, parents, and the community, according to the organization’s website.

102221.N.DR.PLATTEGEDDESAWARD3.jpg
Tiffany Sanderson, South Dakota Secretary of Education, Jennifer Knecht, principal of Platte-Geddes Elementary School, Darcie DuFrain, 3rd grade teacher at Platte-Geddes, Dee Dee Petersen, 4th grade teacher at Platte-Geddes, Phyllis Daum, 3rd grade teacher at Platte-Geddes, Donna Duba, Cedar Grove Colony Teacher and Joel Bailey superintendent, for the Platte-Geddes School District, pose for a picture at the National Distinguished School Banquet last week in Pierre. Platte-Geddes Elementary School was recently named a recipient of the 2021 National ESEA Distinguished Schools. The national award recognized the school for closing the achievement gap between student groups for two or more consecutive years. (Submitted Photo)

Schools are selected by their state education agency and must qualify under one of the following categories:

  • Category 1: Exceptional student performance and academic growth for two or more consecutive years

  • Category 2: Closing the achievement gap between student groups for two or more consecutive years

  • Category 3: Excellence in serving special populations of students (e.g. homeless, migrant, English learners, etc.)

Knecht said the recognition is the result of a cooperative effort between teachers, administrators, students and parents. The teachers set the goals for achievement and the students have matched those goals through hard work and connection they have formed with their instructors.
The fact that the school was named a recipient in Category 1, which indicates growth over at least a two-year period, is especially telling of the amount of work everyone puts in, she said.

“It really says a lot about their work. It’s not just one quick snapshot. Over time, they have been exceptional students and their hard work has been ongoing,” Knecht said. “We just really want to give a shout out to our teachers for having our kids ready and for setting those high expectations and continually looking at data and content standards and knowing what they need to learn. And to the students for rising to those expectations.”

She also credited the Panther Way, a set of behavioral expectations that the district promotes. Students are expected to be kind, responsible, respectful and safe while in school.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Everything comes back to the Panther Way in terms of positive behavioral expectations. And we feel strongly that those go hand-in-hand with our academic expectations,” Knecht said.

102221.N.DR.PLATTEGEDDESAWARD4.jpg
Emma Sameulson and Will Walstad, 5th graders at Platte-Geddes Elementary School, work on a hands-on science project. Platte-Geddes Elementary School was recently named a recipient of the 2021 National ESEA Distinguished Schools. The national award recognized the school for closing the achievement gap between student groups for two or more consecutive years. (Submitted Photo)

Joel Bailey, superintendent of the Platte-Geddes School District, agreed that the recognition was a nice acknowledgement of the work being done in the classroom.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the students, staff and faculty. It’s an affirmation of the great work they do,” Bailey said. “Most importantly, it all begins with the relationship (teachers have) established with their learners, and all of the teachers and faculty work together to provide an outstanding education for every one of our students in the district.”

Bailey said it was especially gratifying to receive the award this year with Cedar Grove Colony Elementary, a Hutterite elementary school that is part of the district, having also received the award in Category 3 last year.

Teachers at recipient schools are usually honored at the National ESEA Conference, but that didn’t happen last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, though Bailey said he expected teachers to be able to travel to the conference in New Orleans, Louisiana in February.

“All plans seem to point that that is still going to take place in person in February,” Bailey said.

ADVERTISEMENT

Tiffany Sanderson, secretary of education for South Dakota, said in a statement that the two South Dakota schools receiving the 2021 award are excellent examples of the quality education that schools in the state can provide their young charges.

“We are so proud of the staff and students at Explorer Elementary and Platte-Geddes Elementary,” Sanderson said. “Each state can only nominate two schools, so this is a prestigious honor. We commend all of their hard work to support students’ learning.”

Related Topics: EDUCATIONOUR TOWNS
Erik Kaufman joined the Mitchell Republic in July of 2019 as an education and features reporter. He grew up in Freeman, S.D., graduating from Freeman High School. He graduated from the University of South Dakota in 1999 with a major in English and a minor in computer science. He can be reached at ekaufman@mitchellrepublic.com.
What To Read Next
Snow removal began Thursday and will continue into the upcoming week, city officials say.
Members Only
“We had a ton of nominations this year for all the awards,” Davison County Sheriff Steve Harr said of all the employee nominations.
The structure that caught fire around 3 a.m. Tuesday was located on the east side of Lake Andes’ Main Street.
“The majority of the fish coming up dead is mainly because of the lack of oxygen they have. The rocks really hurt the fishery,” Wolf said of the rocks that were placed by the dam a few years ago.