Snow Hill Middle Is Area’s Latest Md. Blue Ribbon School

SNOW HILL – Worcester County’s highly decorated public school system added another feather to its cap this week when state education officials named Snow Hill Middle School a Maryland Blue Ribbon School of Excellence.

With the announcement on Tuesday, Snow Hill Middle joined seven other Worcester County public schools to have received the prestigious award including, in no particular order, Ocean City, Showell, and Snow Hill Elementary Schools, Stephen Decatur Middle School and all three of the county’s public high schools – Stephen Decatur, Snow Hill and Pocomoke. Now, all three of the public schools in Snow Hill have earned the distinction.

The announcement came during the state Board of Education’s meeting on Tuesday. With Snow Hill Middle School now in the fold, eight of the county’s 12 schools eligible for the award have achieved state Blue Ribbon status.

“With eight of our 12 eligible schools carrying the Blue Ribbon designation, our school system has one of the highest concentrations of Maryland Blue Ribbon Schools,” said Superintendent Dr. Jon Andes this week.

Andes reportedly told Snow Hill Middle Principal Janet Simpson about her school’s award this week in advance of the official announcement.

“When Dr. Andes told me our school would be named a Maryland Blue Ribbon School of Excellence, I screamed and jumped up out of my chair,” she said. “I was elated for our students, staff, parents and community. We have all worked so hard.”

On a more serious note, Simpson said she was pleased the state board of education recognized the strides Snow Hill Middle has made in recent years, as evidenced by the schools gains on state assessment tests. For example, since the Maryland School Assessment (MSA) tests were first administered in 2003, Snow Hill Middle eighth graders improved their reading scores by over 25 percent with over 90 percent achieving proficient or advanced status on the 2009 tests.

In addition, Snow Hill Middle eighth graders improved their MSA math scores by nearly 50 percent during the same time period with about 86 percent achieving proficient or advanced status.

“Our success and continued progress has attracted the attention of our state,” said Simpson. “This prestigious designation tells us that MSDE recognizes and celebrates the difference that we are making for our students. This is truly one of the highest honors.”

Snow Hill Middle has a student population of 400, with 47 percent of the students coming from households of poverty. Accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, the rural school was featured recently by MGT of America, an independent firm contracted by the state school board to feature Snow Hill Middle as a model school in its report identifying Worcester public school students as among the best performing in Maryland.

“We are very proud of Snow Hill Middle School,” said Andes. “As a rural community school system, we understand that this level of success cannot happen without the ongoing support and tireless effort of all stakeholders. We are deeply grateful to our teachers, administrators, support staff, students, parents, county commissioners, and community. This is not only a school recognition, this is a community recognition.”