Ashland's John Muir School recognized by state

ASHLAND — Ashland School District's John Muir School is being recognized as a 2012 Title I Distinguished School by the Oregon Department of Education for its "exceptional student performance" over the past three years.

The award is handed out annually by the National Title I Association, which recognizes schools across the country for their innovation in helping low-income students achieve at high levels. About 58 percent of John Muir's students are eligible for free and reduced lunch, a higher percentage than the state overall.

A $5,000 award will be presented to school officials at the National Title I Conference in Nashville, Tenn., in January.

John Muir has received an "Outstanding" on the Oregon School Report Card for the past three years.

Principal Tiffany Burns attributed John Muir's student success to a combination of "independence, creativity and flexibility." John Muir was also designated as a "model school" this summer under Oregon's new accountability system.

The magnet school teaches kindergartners through eighth-grade students with a focus on outdoor education, the natural sciences and the arts, Burns said.

Kindergartners through fourth-graders take weekly hikes, typically in Lithia Park, and older students take weekly field trips into the outdoors.

"The role of the teacher is to create a stimulating atmosphere for the students "… our instruction focuses on the whole child," Burns said. "As teachers, we're also participating as learners."

In March, John Muir was one of three schools in Oregon to receive an annual state wellness award in recognition for its commitment to well-balanced nutrition and physical education.

The National Title I Association recognizes "examples of superior Title I school programs" in the areas of "exceptional student performance" and "closing the achievement gap," according to its website.

Title I is the first section of the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act, reauthorized in 2001 by President George W. Bush as No Child Left Behind, and provides federal funding to improve the education of economically disadvantaged students in school districts across the United States. Schools must qualify for the funding by serving a disproportionately large amount of low-income students.

Greenway Elementary in the Beaverton School District was also singled out for the award. In 2011, the National Title I Association gave the award to 68 schools across the country.

Burns said parent involvement and a "highly inclusive, collaborative school community" also play big roles in students' success.

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