Our Lady of Mercy School in Madison, CT, which draws students from along the shoreline and inland towns, has been named a 2012 National Blue Ribbon Schools by the U.S. Department of Education for its exemplary high performance.
"Our nation has no greater responsibility than helping all children realize their full potential," U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said of the awards in a prepared 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."
Our Lady of Mercy, at 149 Neck Road in Madison, was recognized as a school where students perform at very high levels, as measured by test scores on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, also known as the Iowa Tests.
Only 50 private schools receive Blue Ribbon designation in 2012
Sister Carol Sansone said the criteria for receiving the award, which was bestowed upon only 269 schools nationwide this year, including only 50 private schools, is well established.
"We have high performing students who score 85th percentile or above in math and reading on a standardized test," she said.
Sister Carol said the school uses the Iowa Tests based on a recommendation from the Archdiocese of Hartford, of which the school is a part. Our Lady of Mercy (OLM) is under the auspices of St. Margaret's parish in Madison and St. George's parish in Guilford, the towns the provide most of the school's students. Students also attend from Clinton, Branford, Killingworth and other towns in the area.
"It's a delicate responsiblity"
Sister Carol said she was very happy to hear of the award, and she added that the school's success cannot be measured by test scores alone.
"Obviously, it's always multifaceted," she said. "I think there is a combination of reasons for our success. We have highly motivated and dedicated teachers who work with students and the parents who have entrusted their children to us. The parents themselves are learned and want the best for their children. And, the parents are motivated to create a learning environment at their home, that is reinforced and cultivated at school."
Sister Carol said having motivated parents is a key factor in that they make the right choices to allow their children to grow both spiritually and educationally. "It's a delicate responsibility, picking the right academic environment for your child," Sister Carol said.
"Innate in the child, cultivated at school, encouraged at home"
Overall, Sister Carol attributed the schools success to "excellence that is innate in the child, cultivated at school, and encouraged at home."
When asked what she is most proud of at her school, she said, "I just find our children to be happy. I love the fact that at this age, there is still a level of innocence and happiness and concern for community building that is often missing in our young people today."
Sister Carol said she felt lucky to be able to work with "kids and parents and teachers where most of the time" (she gave a small laugh here) "most of the time, things are working and working very well."
Tremendous support helps
Strong leadership from the pastors at St. Margaret's and St. George's parish is also a factor in the school's success, Sister Carol said. "The school is very blessed," she said.
"We have strong leadership, and there's tremendous support from the school community and the parish community."
OLM is a co-ed parochial school that was started in 1954 that teaches students Pre-K (3) to grade eight. According to the school's website it is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) and was among top 100 schools with the highest number of qualified students from the John Hopkins University Center for Talented and Gifted Students.
Thanks to Madison Patch reader Matt Callahan for letting us know this good news!