School started 20 years ago in church basement now nationally recognized

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Caption
The Liberty Twp. school has earned the Blue Ribbon award from the U.S. Department of Education.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

A Butler County school has won one of the nation’s most prestigious education honors.

Liberty Twp.’s Mother Teresa Catholic Elementary School has earned the Blue Ribbon award from the U.S. Department of Education.

ExploreMORE: Local Catholic school celebrates 20-year anniversary

The annual award is a rare honor, and the local school is one of only 16 in Ohio to win the designation.

“What an honor for the MTCES family,” said Sister Anne Schulz, who has led MTCES as principal for its 20 years of existence.

“It takes a whole village to raise a child, and it takes a whole community to have a successful school. MTCES has worked so hard to keep its standards high and earn the Blue Ribbon Award,” said Schulz.

ExploreMORE: Mother Teresa School founder, leader to retire

The school opened in 1998 to 20 kindergartners in the basement of a local church and now serves 535 students in grades K-8 on its 25-acre campus.

It is the only school in Butler and Warren counties to win this year’s award.

MTCES Board Chairperson Brian James said, “not bad for an independent school that just two decades ago consisted of only 20 kindergartners and a teacher in a church basement.”

MTCES is among 300 public and 49 non-public schools to receive the national honor this year.

Noel Balster, spokeswoman for the school, said, “in our short existence of only 20 years, this is the first time we have received the Blue Ribbon Award.”

“We are overwhelmed with pride from receiving this prestigious honor. It serves as validation of the hard work and commitment of our administration, faculty, staff, students, and parents. It truly has been a community effort to maintain the high standards of MTCES,” said Balster.

National Blue Ribbon Schools are on education’s cutting edge, pioneering innovative educational practices from professional learning communities and project-based learning to social and emotional learning and positive behavior systems, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

After achieving scores in the top 15 percent in the nation in reading (or English language arts) and mathematics as measured by a nationally normed test, Mother Teresa staff and board members completed an extensive application process, and were then nominated by The Council for American Private Education (CAPE) to the Department of Education, said school officials.

MTCES is now recognized as an Exemplary High Performing School and is among the state’s highest performing schools as measured by nationally normed tests.

School officials said Schulz will represent MTCES at a two-day awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., where she will hear from U.S. Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos and other educators, share best practices, and celebrate the accomplishment.