Ridgewood's has been named a 2012 Blue Ribbon School by the United States Department of Education, according to an announcement made by US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan Friday.
Of over 10,000 eligible schools, Willard was one of only 269 to receive the recognition this year.
"We are all thrilled to receive this recognition," said Principal Marianne Williams. "This award is an affirmation of the work we have all done at Willard School – teachers, students, and parents – to create programs and an environment that meets the needs of all learners," she said.
"When we were nominated by the state for this national award, every staff member in this building stepped forward to work on the application – a daunting process that caused us to examine all aspects of everything we do here."
Willard's mission statement is more than words on paper, Williams said, it's a way of life.
Superintendent Daniel Fishbein called the award a great honor.
"The Willard School community serves as a prime example of the Ridgewood Public Schools tradition of excellence," he said. "Principal Marianne Williams, the Willard School teachers and the support staff are to be congratulated for the hard work that they do every day with the children. They are also to be complimented on the hard work that went into the Blue Ribbon application process, which required much commitment and effort from many members of the Willard community over a lengthy period of time.”
According to a release from the Secretary of Education, the Blue Ribbon distinction is given to schools in one of two categories, “Exemplary High Performing,” or “Exemplary Improving.”
Willard was named in the “Exemplary High Performing” category, which the release said recognizes schools that are “among their state’s highest performing schools, as measured by state assessments or nationally-normed tests.”
This November, the DOE will present Blue Ribbon awards to 219 public and 50 private schools at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. Williams will be in attendance for the recognition ceremony.
“Our nation has no greater responsibility than helping all children realize their full potential,” Duncan said in the release. “Schools honored with the National Blue Ribbon Schools award are committed to accelerating student achievement and preparing students for success in college and careers. Their work reflects the conviction that every child has promise and that education is the surest pathway to a strong, secure future.”
Willard is one of 16 New Jersey schools that received the Blue Ribbon recognition this year. See the full list here.
Jessica Mazzola contributed to this article.