The U.S. Department of Education recognized The Gifted Academy at Thurgood Marshall School as a National Blue Ribbon School for 2020. The award affirms the hard work of educators, families and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging and engaging content. Thurgood Marshall School was named in the Exemplary High Performing Schools category, which means it is among Illinois' highest performing schools, measured by state assessments or national normed tests. Thurgood Marshall School is among only seven schools in Illinois to receive the Exemplary High Performing Schools distinction. It is home to the RPS 205 gifted program for students in fifth through eighth grades.
"At Thurgood Marshall, we meet students where they are and motivate and encourage them to develop to their full potential," said Principal Jessica Powell. "Building relationships and establishing a culture of collaboration provides students with the support to achieve at high levels. These are key elements of our students' success and our primary focus as we implement our school's mission: to collaboratively engage students in a world-class gifted education."
Assistant Principal Megan Jones called the recognition a nod not only to the program's students and staff, but to RPS 205 for recognizing the importance of gifted education and providing the facilities and resources to meet the needs of RPS 205 students. "We are hopeful that this accolade will bring more students to Rockford and continue to make RPS 205 a first choice district for families," she said.
Former Principal Jill Faber retired from Thurgood Marshall School in 2020 after spending 14 years in the RPS 205 gifted program. She offered her congratulations to Marshall students, staff and families: "I am not surprised that Marshall students and staff have been recognized with this honor. I am privileged to have been a part of this diverse community for the last several years. Congratulations to all on this accomplishment!"
Administrators submitted an abstract for the award earlier this year that said, in part: "Marshall embodies rigor and relevance while promoting academic excellence, personal responsibility, and integrity. Several new initiatives have allowed our teachers to think outside the box while challenging the curiosity of our students and inspiring them to love learning. … Meeting the social/emotional needs of our students is paramount. Counselors work closely with teachers to deliver lessons on topics like managing stress, controlling perfectionism, learning not to fear failure, and developing tenacity. Whether the focus is academic or real-world social skills, our mission is to motivate students to reach their full potential."
The school will be recognized virtually Nov. 12-13 at the 2020 National Blue Ribbon Schools Awards Ceremony, with the 317 public and 50 non-public school honorees.